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Woman injured in crash with Deer Lakes school bus

Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 5:48 p.m.

A Tarentum woman was critically injured Wednesday afternoon when the minivan she was driving rear-ended a Deer Lakes school bus in Frazer, police and fire officials said.

An Allegheny General Hospital supervisor said Catherine Johnson of Kuhns Lane was in critical condition.

Officials said the bus was stopped at a regular bus stop at 2531 Riddle Run Road when it was struck by the white Chevrolet Astro minivan at about 4:10 p.m.

Frazer No. 2 Fire Chief Dave Gould said four primary school-age students were on board the bus. They were taken to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for evaluation. The bus driver was walking around and appeared to be uninjured.

Deer Lakes School District spokeswoman Kathy Makuta couldn't provide an age for the children or identify the bus driver.

“They were at a complete stop with the red (bus) lights on and the children were preparing to get off the bus,” Makuta said.

Makuta said the district will provide counselors for any Deer Lakes elementary school student who wants to talk about their classmates being injured.

The van driver was wedged inside her mangled vehicle for almost an hour, Gould and others said.

Rescue crews had to cut off the roof and windshield and pry two doors off. Just after 5 p.m. she was freed, placed in an ambulance and driven a short distance to Agan Park where a waiting helicopter flew her to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Gould said the woman was coherent and cried out when she was moved.

She had been wearing a seat belt and was traveling alone.

Neighbor Rose Cowfer said she had just pulled into her yard when she heard the crash.

“It's a sound you don't forget,” she said. “I looked up and the van had jumped into the back of the bus.”Cowfer said she was in a car with her husband last October when they were hit by a pick-up truck along Riddle Run Road. No one was hurt that time.

“This used to be a country road,” Cowfer said. “Since the mall went in, there's a lot of traffic day and night.”

Mike Adams, who lives several houses away, said he jogs along the road. He's been forced to jump off the road several times.

Yellow road signs about 300 yards from the crash site warn motorists of an S curve. The speed in the curve is reduced from 40 mph to 30 mph.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or



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