A field trip to pick pumpkins turned nightmarish for a group of preschoolers Monday when the school bus driving them back to their Elizabeth day care center overturned on an exit ramp.
Police said about half of the 31 children aboard the bus suffered minor injuries, none life-threatening. All the children were transported to six local hospitals for evaluation as a precaution.
The accident occurred shortly before 2 p.m. at the Routes 1/9 and Route 78 off ramps, where the bus overturned while negotiating a curve.
The children were from the Proceed Incorporated school in Elizabeth. A woman who answered the phone at the school said school officials were not commenting on the accident.
Police said the bus that overturned was the only one involved in the accident, but that there were four buses en route back to the school from the field trip. All four buses are registered to the Linden-based Villani Bus Company.
Carlos Ramos, 31, of Elizabeth, was with his 3Â½-year old daughter, Yasmin, on one of other buses.
"It seemed like the driver took the curve a little too tight, not fast, but tight, and probably she hit the corner, she was about to flip and it seemed she overcompensated when she was already flipping," the elder Ramos said.
He said it appeared the disabled bus was spilling gas, so parents helped all the kids off the bus and got them as far away as possible.
"It was really scary, the kids had dirt and blood on their faces, it looked really bad," he said. "Actually, the grown-ups were the ones running around, screaming and panicking, more than the kids."
Witnesses said some of the preschoolers were thrown against the side of the bus that struck the pavement. Other children were hanging from their seatbelts with the bus on its side.
Several parents said they had gone to the school to pick up their children from the field trip and were surprised they hadn't arrived at the scheduled time. When told about the accident, they rushed to the scene.