Two Dead in 3-Vehicle Crash Involving a School Bus in Salem County
New Jersey State Police gave details Saturday afternoon about a fatal three-vehicle crash involving a school bus with students aboard that happened about 4pm Friday in Pittsgrove Township, Salem County.
According to police, a woman driving a Nissan Murano westbound on Welchville Road, County Road 540, crossed the center line and hit a school bus transporting 19 students from Olivet Elementary School in Elmer.
After the impact, the school bus and the Nissan entered the westbound lanes and struck a Volkswagen causing all three vehicles to travel off the right side of the roadway.
The driver of the Nissan and the school bus driver have died, the driver of the Volkswagen sustained moderate injuries and two students on the bus were injured with non-life-threatening injuries.
The school bus driver, Denise Powell, 60, of Newfield, was airlifted to Cooper Hospital where she was later pronounced dead.
NBC 10 reports that Powell was also a cafeteria worker for Pittsgrove Township schools, according to Superintendent Matt Casey, who issued a statement Saturday.
"Mrs. Powell was a beloved member of our district for over 20 years," Casey's statement read. "The children loved her and her colleagues did as well. She passed serving the school community."
"Denise Powell is a hero," the statement concludes.
The school community is planning to wear purple on Monday to remember Powell.
Here is how NJ State Police are describing how the crash occurred based on their investigation.
On Friday, October 15, at approximately 4:00 p.m., an International 3000 school bus, transporting 19 students from Olivet Elementary School, was traveling eastbound on County Road 540. A Nissan Murano and a Volkswagen Jetta were both traveling westbound on County Road 540. Based on the preliminary investigation, the Nissan crossed the center lines in the area of milepost 28.5, entered the eastbound lanes, and struck the school bus.After the impact, the school bus and the Nissan entered the westbound lanes and struck the Volkswagen causing all three vehicles to travel off the right side of the roadway.
The driver of the Nissan, Pearl Caudill, 70, of Pittsgrove, N.J., sustained fatal injuries in the crash and was pronounced deceased at the scene. The school bus driver, Denise Powell, 60, of Newfield, N.J., was airlifted to Cooper Hospital where she was later pronounced dead. The driver of the Volkswagen sustained moderate injuries and was transported to Inspira Medical Center Vineland. Two students were transported to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries for precautionary reasons.