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October 31, 2013

Bus crashes into truck on KY 26

Wreck happened inside underpass near Eaton’s Handy Mart

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

Mary Claxton was enjoying a pleasant fall afternoon on her front porch Wednesday when she heard something.

“I was sitting over here reading,” she said, pointing to a chair on her front porch. “I heard something but didn’t pay it much attention.”

But seconds later, her ears tuned in to a crash of metal.

“Then I heard all this commotion and came over here,” Claxton said. “And I looked around the corner and saw all that sitting in the yard.”

“That” was a public transport bus owned by RTEC Transportation of Corbin — it had just crashed into a Dodge 4x4 inside the railroad underpass near Eaton’s Handy Mart on KY 26.

Whitley County Sheriff’s Deputy Kirk Mays said the driver of the bus, Paul G. Wallace, of Corbin, was driving a passenger north on KY 26 when he came to the underpass.

The highway leading through the underpass narrows significantly, often requiring larger vehicles to wait before proceeding through the tunnel-like underpass.

“The bus driver had already started through,” Mays explained. “He thought the truck driver had stopped.”

The truck driver, according to Mays, was 29-year-old Bertrand Roussel, of Rockholds.

Mays further explained that Roussel thought the same thing about the bus — that it had stopped — and attempted to drive under the pass.

Mays said that Wallace swerved after the impact and lost control — sending the bus through Claxton’s backyard fence.

The deputy said that one passenger was on the bus at the time of the crash. Wanda Scalf, 41, of Corbin, was checked by medical personnel at the scene, then taken to a waiting replacement bus.

No one was seriously injured in the crash, Mays said, and no one was transported for further medical treatment.

“There are wrecks all the time here,” Claxton said, pointing to a newer-looking spot in her wooden fence. “If you look there you see where the last time a girl drove her car in the yard — and that time it almost hit the house.”

Another neighbor to the crash site, Norman Teague, agreed that several crashes occur at that underpass.

“People go real fast up these roads,” Teague said. “I saw one crash into (Claxton’s) yard, and I still haven’t painted my fence after a wreck up on the side there.”

He added that another time he saw where a vehicle had hit a culvert next to his driveway, causing a crash.

Assisting at the scene were crews with Whitley County EMS and the Woodbine Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, as well as Deputy Cody Harrell. A two-man crew from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet was also on hand to assist in spilled fuel cleanup.

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