Driver in bus crash that injured dozens of Philly school kids charged

The driver of a bus that crashed on I-95 in Maryland this spring, injuring more than two dozen students from a Philadelphia school, has been charged, law enforcement officials reported Wednesday.

Clarence C. Beamer, a driver with the Phoenixville-based Werner Coach, has been charged with negligent driving and failing to drive in a designated lane, misdemeanor offenses punishable by fines. Beamer was driving 26 students, two teachers, and a parent chaperone from Philadelphia’s C.W. Henry School on May 15 for a field trip to Washington when the bus crashed. All were injured, including a teacher who needed to be hospitalized until July, said Joseph Cassilly, state attorney from Harford County.

A review of video from a camera on board the bus showed Beamer, of Philadelphia, changing from the center to left lane near the Havre de Grace exit as a Honda Civic tried to pass the bus on the left, Cassilly said. Beamer’s lane change forced the car into the shoulder, Cassilly said. The car, driven by Menachem Backman, attempted to skirt the bus, but struck its front.

The bus overturned, hit an embankment and a tree, and came to rest across the road. Traffic was blocked for hours. Coincidentally, a bus carrying Philadelphia police officers happened to be traveling south at the time. The bus stopped and the officers assisted in rescuing victims from the charter accident.