By Robin Rieger
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) – “I did everything I could,” said a clearly shaken Christine Williams.
She is the driver of the Safety Bus Service school bus that went off the road and hit a tree Monday afternoon on the Garden State Parkway. She had 36 students on board from a Somers Point charter school.
Williams’ ex husband Paul Williams says she described the incident to him.
“She said the tire came off and the bus was still running, still rolling. she said then all of a sudden the bus was pulling to the right,” said Paul Williams.
The bus Williams was driving was taken out of service during a state inspection October 18th for bald tires according to the motor vehicle commission.
Safety Bus president Tom Dugan says two rear tires were replaced the same day and inspectors allowed the bus to go back into service.
“The tires probably weren’t bald, they we coming close to their wear marks and the inspectors asked us if we’d change it out, then knowing that we’d have to change them in another month anyhow,” Dugan said.
He says he doesn’t know a tire fell off the bus but says waterproof paint on the wheels’ lug nuts would alert a driver if one is loose during required pre-run inspections.
“There’s not a break here in the color, so if a lug nut were coming loose you would have pink over here and pink there,” he said.
Williams is described as a well respected bus driver who loves her job.
“She’s been with us a little over two years and we’ve never had any incidents with her,” Dugan said.
State police would only say the accident is under investigation. The charter school principal says only two students remain hospitalized, in good condition and good spirits. Other students and Williams were treated and released.