Crews respond to 2 school bus crashes on Rt. 543 in Bel Air

Posted at 8:28 AM, May 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-24 18:16:52-04

Several people were injured in two separate crashes involving schools buses on Route 543 in Bel Air Wednesday morning.

The first occurred at 7:16 a.m. A spokesperson for the Maryland State Police said that on Route 543 near Hillside Drive, when the driver of a Ford Explorer tried to change into the left lane, it struck a Mitsubishi Lancer then struck the back of a school bus and became wedged underneath the bus. One student on the bus, a 15-year-old boy, was injured and taken to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center; the bus had eleven students on board total. 45-year-old Anita Page of Joppa was identified as the driver of the Ford; she was charged with "Driver changing lanes when unsafe."

While on the scene, bystanders and callers alerted crews to a second crash involving a school bus on Route 543 at Redfield Road, approximately 1/2 mile away, involving a passenger vehicle trapped and on fire. 

According to the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Co, crews arrived to find the car fire out with the driver trapped, and a school bus involved. Extrication was completed within 10 minutes, officials said. Upon investigation, state police believe the school bus failed to stop at a red light, striking the side of a Chevrolet Cobalt which was turning left from Redfield Rd to Rt 543 south. Out of seven students on board the bus, an 11-year-old girl was injured and taken to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center. The driver of the Cobalt was also injured, he was flown to Shock Trauma in Baltimore by Maryland State Police; he has been identified as 30-year-old Artemis Howe of Forest Hill. 

Police have charged the school bus driver, 40-year-old Angela Harpster, with failing to stop at a red signal. 

The road has since reopened.

School officials confirmed that the buses belonged to Harford County Public Schools. Parents of the students aboard the buses were contacted, said spokesperson Jillian Lader.