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School bus hits girl during drill

VINELAND — A 10-year-old girl recruited by a school bus driver to help during an emergency evacuation drill was injured when she was hit by another school bus.

Bus driver Edelberto Romero told Vineland police Officer Baron McCoy that he pulled into his designated drop-off point at Johnstone Elementary School about 9 a.m. Friday. Romero said he put the bus in neutral, applied the emergency brake and began to give his student passengers instructions for the drill.

While talking to the youngsters, Romero, 62, of the 1700 block of Woodcrest Drive, said he heard people screaming, “Stop the bus,” and noticed his bus was moving forward. It struck the bus in front him, injuring a student recruited to help with the drill.

The other bus driver, Jose Torres, 67, of the 700 block of East Almond Road, told police he had asked the 10-year-old student to assist in the drill and posted her at the rear of the bus to help other students use the rear emergency exit.

While helping the students exit, Torres heard the yelling, saw the bus moving toward him and jumped out of the way, according to a police report released Wednesday.

The 10-year-old girl tried to pull her legs inside the bus, but her right leg was caught between the buses. She was taken to South Jersey Healthcare Regional Medical Center, where she was treated for leg pain, police said.

No other students were reported injured, according to the police report.

McCoy inspected the bus’ emergency brakes and confirmed they were in working order, indicating that Romero did not apply the brake correctly, police said.

McCoy did not issue tickets. He gave his report to the district’s transportation supervisor John Morris and Johnstone assistant principal Joseph Poma.

Superintendent MaryAnn Banks said Wednesday “the district has taken appropriate action” in the matter, and declined further comment.

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