Car’s driver hurt after crossing in school bus path

GUILDERLAND — Last Thursday, a Guilderland High School student driving a Honda was hit by a school bus after she failed to yield the right-of-way, police say.

The call came in at 3:55 p.m. on Oct. 10, said Captain Curtis Cox with the Guilderland Police. He described the accident this way: The bus, driven by Suzanne Spiak, was headed west on Route 146 towards Altamont when the car, driven by Kelsey Heidenstrom, 17, pulled out of Route 158, near Phillips Hardware, making a left turn.

“She went directly into the path of the bus,” said Cox. “The bus driver tried to avoid it, but ended up T-boning the 17-year-old.”

Heidenstrom, who was alone in the 2005 Honda, had to be extricated with the Jaws of Life, he said, and suffered a pelvic injury. She was treated at the scene by the Guilderland Emergency Medical Services and was then transported to Albany Medical Center by the Altamont Rescue Squad. Both the Guilderland Center and Altamont fire departments were on the scene.

Mark McGuire, Albany Medical Center spokesman, said yesterday there was “no information” on Heidenstrom.

The single student on the bus was not injured, nor was the bus attendant, said the schools superintendent Marie Wiles. Spiak, the driver, saw a doctor after the accident. “I think she was sore,” said Wiles. “But she was back at work on Tuesday.”

Wiles went on, “Sue Spiak is an excellent driver, very experienced.”

No charges have been made, Cox said on Wednesday, but he noted the investigation is ongoing. He also said there is no indication at this time of drug or alcohol use.

Wiles described the bus, used for handicapped students, as “mid-sized,” accommodating 12 students with room for two wheelchairs.

The district filled out an accident report and, as required by law, the bus driver had to submit to mandatory drug testing, Wiles said. She explained that one of the criteria that triggers the drug test is a disabled vehicle; both the bus and the car had to be towed from the scene.

Wiles said she is not authorized to reveal the results of the testing but said, “The driver did the best she could. We’re very thankful no one was injured seriously.”

The bus, she said, was fully insured.

The student’s parents came to the scene of the accident and took him home, Wiles said.

Also arriving at the scene, “within minutes,” Wiles said, were the district’s transportation director, Danielle Poirier; the bus maintenance supervisor, Mitch Carker; and the assistant superintendent for business, Neil Sanders.

“I would compliment our school community for stepping up,” Wiles said. “Everyone handled it calmly and coolly,” she said, praising the police as well as the rescue workers. “Confronted with a difficult situation, they rose to the occasion.”

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