Bus accident victims recovering; truck driver charged

Published: Jul. 14, 2011 at 1:48 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2011 at 3:19 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Thirteen people, including ten children, are recovering Wednesday night after spending most of the evening in the hospital following a major accident near the Manchester Bridge.  Police have now charged the driver of the truck, which collided with a Boys and Girls Club bus, with running a red light.

They are words no parent ever wants to hear during a phone call with a child.

"Basically 'Mommy, Mommy I need you. Where are you,'" Tikirea Hamlin described the phone call with her 10-year-old daughter.

Those words forced her into action.

"Of course I was overwhelmed, dropped everything," she said.  "I panicked basically."

Hamlin's daughter was on the bus with nine of her friends from the Boys and Girls Club summer program heading to the Virginia Holocaust Museum.  Their driver had a green light on East Byrd Street.  Police said the 20 year old driver of a Buckingham Greenery landscaping truck didn't stop at his red light and the two collided.

Deborah Randolph's 14-year-old niece described the frightening moments of impact like a scene from a movie.

"She said she felt something hit the school bus," Randolph explained.  "Next thing she know, they were spinning around and then they flipped over on the side."

Rescue crews sent the ten children and three adults to VCU Medical Center, Chippenham and St. Mary's Hospitals.  Family members converged there fearing the worst.

"She was just in a very shaken up state," said cousin Janai Randolph.  "I was furious. I didn't know what was going on.  She was complaining about her back, leg injury, arm."

Amazingly, no one was seriously hurt.  Tikirea Hamlin credits the driver for making sure every kid was wearing a seat belt.  As she took her daughter home from the hospital, that lesson was reinforced.

"The number one thing: have your seatbelt on during an accident," she said.

The Boys and Girls Club president told NBC12 their drivers have safety training on a regular basis.

A spokeswoman for Buckingham Greenery did not want to comment at this time about box truck driver Christopher Blackwell's history and training.

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