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Farwell School Bus Turns Into Path Of Semi, Kids Suffer Minor Injuries

"It’s a scary thing just to think about, something like that happening."   

A terrifying moment for students on this bus.

Their bus driver turned in front of a semi, the truck driver couldn’t avoid the crash.

Northern Michigan News Leader has been on the scene bringing you every development since it happened on the morning of Monday, March 13.

That’s when we learned 14 students from Farwell were on the bus, two of them hurt.

It all started when the bus driver made a turn in front of a semi on M-115 and Cedar Road.

9&10’s Cody Boyer has been working this story all day.

He joins us with the latest on the crash investigation in tonight’s top story.

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Deputies say a split second would have changed what happened this morning on 115.

The superintendent says the truck driver saved lives.

"This one is something I’ve never been part of before and don’t ever want to again,” says Carl Seiter, Superintendent, Farwell Area Schools.

A terrifying morning for students, parents and farwell superintendent Carl seiter.

14 kids were on a bus that turned in front of a semi-trailer.

"What I think happened was driver waited for a southbound vehicle, southbound vehicle crossed in front of him and then he proceeded to cross 115,” Seiter says.

A neighbor’s home surveillance camera caught what happened next.

The semi swerved to miss the bus and ended up just clipping the door.

"Thankfully, physically, everybody is okay but I have to question myself, included, and the driver as to whether or not they are going to get over this any time soon,” Seiter says.

"To hear that it was a semi versus a school bus…that was really scary,” says Marybeth Desmith, whose kids used to go to Farwell schools.

It’s news Farwell parents like Marybeth and Breea Hockemeyer never want to hear.

"You put a lot of trust in the bus driver,” Hockemeyer says. “My roads are horrible and just the chatter-bumps, so you have to have a lot of trust in their driving skills and stuff to get kids to school."

"It’s a scary thing just to think about, something like that happening and how it could’ve ended up,” Desmith says.

In the end, the superintendent says the truck driver’s actions changed everything.

"I can’t thank him enough,” Seiter says. “Ben Florenza…he’s a father of three. He knew in his mind what the right decision was and I’m thankful for that." 

The school has placed the substitute bus driver on a week’s leave while they look into what happened.

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The angle of the intersection where this accident happened has concerned drivers before.

While no major accidents have happened there, deputies in Clare County still say it is dangerous.

Cedar and Twin Lake Roads both run at odd angles to 115.

In bad conditions like Monday morning, deputies say it’s especially hard to see oncoming traffic in one direction.

They say drivers can avoid accidents like this one by being patient. 

"You’ve got to look over your shoulder, the one direction, if you are turning and it’s much smaller than a 90-degree at most angles and there can be some blind spots associated with that, for sure," says Dep. Ed Williams, Clare Co. Sheriff’s Office. "Nobody ever wants to have a child on that bus, the one that gets hit. That’s terrible."

Both Northern Logistics, who owns the truck, and the school are running protocol drug screens on each driver.

The sheriff’s department is still investigating.