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22 children, driver suffer injuries as school bus rams into snowplow

A school bus carrying fifth- and sixth-graders slammed into the back of a town snowplow on a Central New York road, injuring 22 children and the bus driver, authorities said Thursday.

Wayne County sheriff's officials said two of the most seriously injured children were sitting in the front seat on the right side of the bus when it hit the plow at about 7:50 a.m. Thursday at an intersection in the rural town of Savannah, 30 miles west of Syracuse.

The front end of the Clyde-Savannah Central School District bus was extensively damaged, crumpled as far back as the windshield and the front door.

The two students, one of them an 11-year-old boy and the other a girl, were trapped for about 30 minutes. The bus driver was trapped for about an hour, Chief Deputy Bob Hetzke said.

The boy and the driver, a woman in her early 40s, were in serious condition after being airlifted to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, said Doretta Royer, hospital spokeswoman. Two other students were in guarded condition at Golisano Children's Hospital in Rochester, said Tom Rickey, a spokeswoman there.

Twenty-one children were taken to nearby Newark-Wayne Community Hospital, where 16 were treated and released and two were transferred by helicopter to the Rochester hospital.

Most of the children in the Newark hospital had bumps and bruises, but some suffered broken bones, said Doug Stark, hospital spokesman.

Hetzke said the bus had dropped off students at Clyde Elementary School and was heading east on Route 31 to bring others to Savannah Elementary School when it slammed into the rear of a plow that was clearing a side road.

The collision happened at the crest of a hill surrounded by snowy fields, and glare off the snow might have prevented the bus driver from seeing the plow clearly, Hetzke said.

"It could be a speculation, but we've got the bus coming out of a curve that is in the shadows, entering into an environment of bright sun over two snow-covered fields on either side," he said. "With a wet road, sun low in the sky, I'm sure glare probably is a contributing factor."

Although snow was coming down in the Syracuse area around the time of the crash, authorities said they did not know if that was a factor. The accident occurred in an area dotted by farms, forests and swamps along an upstate snow belt often hit hard by lake-effect storms off of Lake Ontario.

The plow driver wasn't hurt.

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