School bus collision, 11 students safe

Driver of car ticketed for using GPS, failing to yield

JOHNSTOWN — The driver of a car that collided with a Wheelerville Union Free School District bus about 3:15 p.m. Friday was taken to St. Mary’s Healthcare in Amsterdam for a possible left wrist fracture and some bruises, according to the county sheriff’s department.

Kathleen Barker of Fort Edward, who had to be extricated from her 2012 Ford, was treated at the scene, and transported to St. Mary’s Healthcare by the Johnstown Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps, said Cpl. Todd Emery of the sheriff’s department. The hospital would not provide information about her.

Neither the bus driver, Verna Meher of Johnstown, nor the 11 children on board appeared to be seriously injured, although the driver was treated by emergency personnel and transported to Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville for evaluation, according to a release from Steven Santa Maria, county civil defense director and fire coordinator. Littauer would not provide information on Meher.

The children were picked up either by parents or another school bus after the crash.

Emery said Barker was en route home from Lowville on Route 29 two-tenths of a mile west of County Highway 116 and, being unfamiliar with the area, was checking her GPS device. He said she then realized she had swerved in front of the oncoming bus.

The bus driver attempted evasive action, and the bus ended up at a 45-degree angle, partly on the road and an embankment, Emery said. The car landed on the lawn of a Lexington Center facility, and damage to the car’s front passenger side was significant, he said.

Barker was reportedly ticketed for failure to yield the right of way, and using an onboard navigation device, and will appear in Johnstown court at a later date.

Sir William Johnson Fire was the first fire agency to arrive on scene. Command was established by Chief Doug Hulbert. Medical personnel triaged the victims of the accident for possible injuries. Firefighters checked the bus for any gasoline leakages and secured its batteries to prevent an ignition sources, Santa Maria said.

Hulbert reportedly freed a cat from the car for transport to a veterinarian and later went to the hospital to inform Barker.

The following other agencies responded to the incident: Sammonsville Fire Department, Rockwood-Garoga-Lasselsville Fire Department, Ambulance Service of Fulton County, Fulton County EMS Coordinators Office, Fulton County Emergency Management and Fire, and the state Department of Transportation.