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48 Injured When Philadelphia Bus, School Bus Collide

May 24, 1989

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A transit bus collided head-on with a school bus returning from a field trip Tuesday, injuring 16 adults and 33 first-graders, authorities said.

In Centreville, Mich., a school bus carrying handicapped students veered into a ditch in southwestern Michigan, critically injuring two children.

In Philadelphia, two women were hospitalized in critical condition but only one child was seriously injured in the accident, which occurred shortly after 2 p.m., authorities said.

The vehicles collided after the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority bus strayed slightly over the center line, police Sgt. John Bradley said. He said the bus may also have been traveling too fast on the rain-slick street.

Eight people, including the driver, were on the SEPTA bus and 44 people were on the school bus, Bradley said. He said he did not know how many of the passengers were children.

The first-graders from Resurrection of Our Lord School were returning from a field trip to the Philadelphia Zoo when the accident occurred, officials said.

Zelma Finegan, 48, was in critical condition with head injuries at the Medical College of Pennsylvania and Linda Girmsheild, 41, was in critical condition with multiple injuries at Hahnemann University Hospital, spokeswomen said.

A child who suffered a broken leg was the only youngster admitted to a hospital. The others were treated at hospitals and released.

The 29-year-old SEPTA driver, David Lewis, 29, was in stable condition at Presbyterian Hospital.

The driver of the school bus was in surgery Tuesday night, and the other adults were treated at hospitals and released, officials said.

In the Michigan accident, the driver told police she looked away from the road when a student loosened a seat belt. The bus swerved across the center line, ran off the road and stopped in a ditch, the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department said.

Students Jenny Ware, 17, and Christine Bathgate, 6, were hospitalized in critical condition.

The driver and 11 other students were treated and released, Sheriff Matt Lori said.