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UPDATE: Roanoke County police identify woman killed in accident involving school bus

No students on the bus were seriously hurt. Investigators say speed was a factor.

November 13, 2012|David Kaplan/WDBJ7 Web Staff
David Kaplan/WDBJ7

ROANOKE CO., Va. — The Roanoke County Police Department has identified the woman who was killed in an accident Tuesday morning that involved a school bus.

Investigators say 39-year-old Donna Divers of Wirtz died after losing control of the Nissan Altima she was driving, which then crashed into a school bus.

A passenger in her car, 42-year-old Christopher Garrett of Wirtz, was seriously hurt in the accident.

Although the investigation is ongoing, police have determined that speed was a factor in the crash.

Divers and Garrett were not wearing seat belts, police say.

The driver of the school bus has been identified as 69-year-old Elma Roberts of Roanoke. An investigation revealed that Roberts saw Divers’ car lose control, so she applied the bus’ brakes to avoid the car.

But the Nissan Altima crossed the center line and hit the front of the bus.

Three students, an aide, and a bus driver were on the bus when it was hit. Nobody on the bus was seriously hurt. The bus was headed to Cave Spring Middle School.

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The accident happened around 8 a.m. on Hunting Hills Drive, near the Hunting Hills Country Club.

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UPDATE 2:57 p.m.: A woman is dead and her passenger, a man, was seriously hurt after the car she was driving swerved into oncoming traffic and hit a school bus around 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Roanoke County Police haven't made any specific determination, but continue to investigate the crash. No one on the bus was seriously hurt.

WDBJ7 spoke with a woman who lives near the site of the accident.

Danielle Wise was blowing leaves on her back porch, when she heard a loud boom.

Once she went around to the front of her house and saw a school bus, her concern grew.

“I immediately, being a former school teacher, panicked," Wise said. “So I got on the bus. So the kids were all fine and the bus driver was shaken, but she was fine and there was an aide.  Everyone was fine.”

Wise is a retired band teacher who taught at Cave Spring Middle.

That's where the bus with three special education students, a driver, and an aide was headed before the accident.

“At this point everything's still preliminary,” Roanoke County Police Sergeant Sgt. Tim Wyatt said. “We're looking at a lot of things trying to determine speed.  The only thing we do know is that the car ended up on the wrong side of the road.”

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene and the man was transported to Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

“They had to do the Jaws of Life and when they took the gentleman out, it was apparent that she had passed, so it was pretty traumatic,” Wise said.

How the car ended up on the wrong side of the road hasn't officially been determined.

Wise has lived on Hunting Hills Drive long enough to have her theories.

“People go too fast,” she said. “It used to be 35 through this road. Now it's 25, and you can't go through these curves going 45 miles per hour.

“There was no squealing of breaks, I just think she lost control.”

Both Wise and police say the rain last night made roads slick this morning.

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UPDATE 11:21 a.m.: One person died and another was seriously hurt in an accident involving a Roanoke County school bus Tuesday morning.

No one on the bus was seriously hurt. A student and a bus aide on the bus suffered minor injuries. The student suffered a busted lip.

The accident happened on Hunting Hills Drive, just north of the Hunting Hills Country Club.

Investigators say a female driving a car crashed into the front of the school bus. She died as a result of the accident. A male in her car was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

WEB EXTRA: Video from Roanoke Co. deadly wreck

The school bus was carrying five people on it -- three special education students, one aide, and the bus driver. The bus was on its way to Cave Spring Middle School. The school bus was in the process of making one more pickup before it headed to Cave Spring Middle School.

Lieutenant Keith Smith tells WDBJ7 that the school bus and the car, a mid-size four-door vehicle, were headed in opposite directions.

The road will be closed as police investigate the crash. The Virginia Department of Transportation is helping to manage traffic in that area.

Roanoke County police are still investigating the accident and have not released any names.

Police say the roads were slick Tuesday morning, and that speeding is a problem on Hunting Hills Drive, but they are far from making any decision about the cause of the crash.

Check back soon for more updates.

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9:09 a.m.: About a half-mile stretch of Hunting Hills Drive is blocked off.

Officers have been on scene about 45 minutes.

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8:50 a.m.: The Roanoke County Police Department is investigating an accident involving a school bus.

The accident is on Hunting Hills Drive in Southwest County. Traffic is backed up in that area.

Emergency crews are on scene.

Check back soon for more updates.


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