Chain-reaction crash sends 20 kids to hospital

UPDATE: Police say almost everyone involved in the accident, including the woman that was Life Starred, has been released from the hospital Wednesday. The driver of the pick up, who was identified at 53-year-old Keith Strubbe, of Oxford, remains at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital with a fractured sternum.  Police say the accident remains under investigation but believe Strubbe may have a medical condition.

Police say one of the drivers involved could also face charges for having a passenger in a vehicle that should not have been.

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TORRINGTON, Conn. (AP/WTNH) – More than two dozen people — including at least 20 children — were taken to hospitals with mostly minor injuries after a five-vehicle chain-reaction crash in Torrington involving two school buses and three other vehicles.

“I felt scared, nervous, and I just wanted to go home,” said 9-year-old James Mackel, who was on one of the school buses and suffered a mild concussion. “My friend in the back got glass all over him and he had to shake it off.”

Police said a woman in one of the cars was flown to Hartford Hospital with serious injuries. Her condition wasn’t immediately released.

The accident happened at the intersection of Winsted Road and Kennedy Drive (see map below).

(AP Photo/The Register Citizen, Laurie Gaboardi)
(AP Photo/The Register Citizen, Laurie Gaboardi)

Police said a pickup truck ran into the back of the woman’s Jeep SUV at about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, pushing it into the rear of a small school bus. The smaller bus then rear-ended the larger bus, and a third car also was struck.

The pickup truck was traveling at a high rate of speed when it struck the Jeep, police said. The sole occupant of the Jeep was the woman who was transported via LifeStar helicopter to Hartford Hospital.

Tim Lebouthiller, a spokesman for Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington, said the 20 children on the buses were treated and released.

Lebouthiller said seven adults were brought to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, and most had been evaluated and released by mid-evening Tuesday.

Danielle Sampson of Torrington rushed to Charlotte Hungerford Tuesday afternoon.

“I just wanted to get there and make sure he is OK,” Sampson said. “It was nerve-racking. I am the only one here who is watching him.”

Officials with the police department’s accident investigation team remained on scene late Tuesday. Initial findings suggest speed was a factor.

“That is an indication of high speed involved,” Torrington police spokesman Lt. Bruce Whiteley said of the extensive damage to the Jeep and pickup truck.

And several local business owners say the accident site is a common area for crashes. Police admit they do investigate their fair share of accidents at the bottom of that hill.

News 8′s Bob Wilson reporting

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