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School bus crashes into Korean War vet’s home, no kids on board

Eighty-two-year-old Pendleton resident Walter D. Pirong always thought his experiences of nearly freezing to death and getting hit by shrapnel in the Korean War would be the scariest moments in his long life.

That changed in an instant Tuesday morning.

At about 7:35 a.m., while he was still in bed, Pirong said he experienced something more terrifying. A school bus slammed into his house at 4971 Mapleton Road.

“I thought I was back in Korea again. It was like an explosion. I was lying in bed. I had no idea what happened,” Pirong said.

A short time later, he discovered the source of the noise: a school bus.

Fortunately, explained Pirong, who lives alone and was uninjured, his first-floor bedroom was on the other side of the white, two-story farmhouse away from where the bus crashed.

“It took out the whole side porch,” he said. “I couldn’t get out of the house.”

The bus careened into the porch, tearing it down, damaging a parked car and coming to a stop next to a maple tree.

The driver, Ray Henning, 68, was transported by ambulance to Eastern Niagara/Lockport Hospital to be checked out, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office reported.

Deputies said the bus was eastbound on Mapleton and that Chris T. Cox, the driver of a passenger car that was northbound on Main Road, failed to yield the right of way to the bus after stopping at a stop sign.

The investigation is continuing and charges are pending, the sheriff’s office said.

Wendelville Fire Company volunteer firefighters responded to the crash along with an ambulance crew from Shawnee Volunteer Fire Company.

“I don’t know if I’ll be able to continue living here because of the damage,” said the Marine Corps veteran.