Driver on Drugs Hits Bus of Disabled Children on Long Island, Both Catch Fire: Cops

Passengers suffered minor bumps and bruises in the Central Islip collision

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    Two 4-year-old Suffolk County children were pulled to safety after a woman, now accused of being high on drugs, slammed her Jeep into their school bus. Greg Cergol reports. (Published Wednesday, Sep 18, 2013)

    A driver allegedly high on drugs crashed her Jeep into a small school bus carrying disabled children on Long Island Wednesday morning, causing both vehicles to catch fire and leaving some of the passengers with minor injuries, officials said.

    The Jeep's driver crossed over the yellow line on Connetquot Avenue in Central Islip shortly after 8 a.m. and crashed into the bus, according to Suffolk County police. Tyajia Anthony was arrested and charged with DWI. Attorney information for Anthony wasn't immediately available.

    "It's scary that at 8:30 in the morning, you could be that reckless," said CeeCee Goldner, the grandmother of one of the two 4-year-old boys on the bus, both in wheelchairs.

    Two adult aides and the driver were also on board. 

    The children were not injured, according to a spokesman for AHRC, the organization dedicated to helping people with developmental disabilities that had organized the bus trip for them.  

    The bus was on its way to a facility for the disabled in Bohemia, the spokesman said.

    "Absolutely a relief," said school official Bill Lenoardi. "Thank goodness it wasn't worse." 

    All of the passengers were taken to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, authorities said, though there were no serious injuries.

    Witnesses said the bus driver, who did suffer an injury to one of her arms, was responsible for getting all of the passengers safely out of the bus.

    The driver pulled the children out of the bus moments before it burst into flames, said Saverio Devivo, who lives in a house close to the crash site.

    Other neighbors who said they came running with fire extinguishers to try to put it out the blaze but the flames were too intense.

    Goldner said she was angry that one driver nearly ended the life of two boys who have faced tough challenges in their young lives. But seeing her 4-year-old grandson OK, she said, brought a happy ending.

    "I was ready to cry," Goldner said, recalling the devastating moment she arrived on the fiery crash scene. "I really can't explain how it feels when you look at your grandchild and know they're safe." 

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