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School Bus Crash 1946

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The Flint Journal December 11, 1946



Driver and One Child
Injured Critically
In Fenton Rd. Wreck

Machine Plunges Into Tree Near
Baldwin Rd. After Tire Blows Out;
Most Victims From Fenton Area

An estimated 25 children and adults were injured shortly before 9 A.M. today when a school bus blew a front tire and crashed into a tree on Fenton Rd. 100 feet from Baldwin Rd., seven miles south of Flint. Forty children aged 10 to 12 were aboard.

Twenty of the victims are in Hurley Hospital, with the driver of the bus and one child in critical condition. The injuries of the others were described as severe but not serious. A few more were treated at the hospital and discharged.

The driver, Arlan Petry, 58, of R1, Fenton father of nine children, and three of the young passengers were trapped in the wreckage. Those caught included Ivan Dorow, the child in critical condition.

Attracted by the screams of the victims of the worst accident of its kind to occur in this area, persons living near-by opened the emergency door of the bus and then set to work with hacksaws and crowbars to free those wedged into the twisted metal of the wreckage.

It took 20 minutes to release the three children and the driver. By that time, sheriff's officers had arrived to help in the rescue work and ambulances had started to take the badly injured to the hospital. State Police also were at the scene. A doctor gave first aid to many.

The bus was en route from the Fenton area to the Kennedy School on Baldwin Rd. a quarter of a mile from the intersection. The school had been rented by the Long Lake School District to handle overflow enrollment. The children on the bus were all fifth and sixth graders. They were accompanied by one teacher, Mrs. Loretta Rinke, 36, of Loon Lake, who was among the injured.

With many doctors and nurses working feverishly, it took three hours at the hospital to give emergency attention to the 18 children and 2 adults who remained there. Stretchers bearing the injured were lined up in the corridors and lobby of the 10th floor. Where emergency and operating rooms are situated. The small patients were treated six at a time.

Parents hunting for their children added to the confusion on the floor jammed with injured. The physicians asked for blood donations from the parents and got immediate response. However, more blood was needed for the children and an appeal for donors was issued.

State Police and sheriff's officers said the right front tire blew out. The right front corner of the bus, behind the hood, hit the tree, and the body was knocked several feet of the chassis. Those trapped were caught between seats and the jammed part of the body.

Carol Hodges, farmer of 1022 E. Baldwin Rd., heard the crash as he walked into his yard about a half mile from the intersection. Then he heard children screaming. He hastened to the scene. Meanwhile, motorists were stopping and persons were coming from other near-by homes. The rear emergency door of the bus was opened and the children crawled or were carried out.

"It was a terrible thing to hear," Hodges said.

He and others obtained hacksaws and bars and began sawing and forcing the metal holding three of the children. Believing the driver was not injured seriously, they waited until they had freed the children before going to his aid.

"As soon as we began prying the wreckage apart and sawing the metal the children calmed down and behaved like little men and women," Hodges said. "They gritted their teeth and tried to help."

"Some of the kids were in pain," added Deputy Everett hart, "and screamed and cried when we began working. We had to rush because spilled gasoline made fire a probability."

Hart said he examined the blown tire and found it was worn smooth.

Dr. Carver Wolcott of Fenton reached the scene within a short time after the crash. News of the accident spread quickly to Lake Fenton and fenton, and parents of some of the children appeared. Some of them became hysterical when they saw the wrecked bus.

Mrs. Reinke insisted that all the injured be taken to the hospital. Hence it is believed the hospital's list accounted for all the victims except those with minor bruises or scratches. A number of boys and girls were loaded into automobiles and taken directly from the scene to their homes.

Everyone in the bus plunged ahead when the big vehicle smashed into the tree, Mrs. Reinke said. With the injured screaming in terror, panic gripped the others for a few minutes. But there was "not too much panic," considering the shock to which the children were submitted, she said.

The emergency door was opened with the help of passers-by and all but the four trapped got out. When the driver was released, part of the front section of the bus was pried away. He was lifted through a hole where the windshield had been.

Eight ambulances and private cars carried the injured to the hospital.



20 Victims
Of Bus Crash
At Hurley

Here is a list of the 20 victims in Hurley Hospital as a result of the school nus smashup on Fenton Rd. today;

Ivan Dorow, 12, of Linden; condition critical.

Arlan petry, 58, R1 Fenton, driver of the bus; possible skull fracture; condition critical.

Mrs. Loretta Reinke, 36, Loon Lake, a teacher at the school.

Joyce De Shano, 11, Fenton

Juanita Lee, 10, Fenton

Janine Zeibig, 10, Lake Fenton

Donald Lonsbury, 11, Lake Fenton

Wilma Punchard, 11, Lake Fenton

Irvidean Crosby, 12, Fenton

Marilyn Torrey, 11, Lake Fenton

James Dunning, 10, Lake Fenton

Roberta Van Norman, 12, Fenton

William Van Norman, 11, brother of Roberta.

Emmett Nelson, 12, Fenton

David Alger, 11, Fenton

Alden Mills, 10, Fenton

Dorothy Barnes, 10, Lake Fenton

James Jones, 11, Linden

James Pyne, 10, Fenton

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