5-year-old killed, more than 20 children injured in Liberty County school bus accident

Photo by Lewis Levine, Coastal News Service

LIBERTY COUNTY, Ga. (WSAV) — A school bus accident in the Gum Branch area leaves one child dead, with 24 other children and their bus driver injured.

Georgia State Patrol officials say 5-year-old Cambria Shuman was killed in the accident Tuesday morning near Ray Road and Hwy. 196. The driver, Evelyn Rodriguez, 62, was taken to Memorial Health in Savannah.

Two GoFundMe accounts have been set up to help Cambria Shuman’s family:

  1. Cambria Shuman
  2. In Memory of 5 yr. Cambria Shuman

5-year-old Cambria Shuman

According to officials, the bus was on its way to Taylors Creek Elementary School in Hinesville. GSP believes a malfunction may have caused the accident, but a review of bus surveillance video will reveal further details.

Assistant Liberty County EMA Director, Larry Logan, says the children on the bus were ages 5 to 12.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the student’s family in their time of grief,” a statement from the Liberty County School System reads, in part. “[We ask] the community to join them in continued thoughts, prayers and support for all individuals affected by today’s accident.”

Ambulances from Liberty, Long and Tatnall counties responded to the scene along with an ambulance from Winn Army Community Hospital in Fort Stewart.

Thirteen children were treated at Winn Army Community Hospital and released Tuesday afternoon.

Liberty Regional Medical Center treated 11 students — seven who came by ambulance and four driven separately.

“Physicians and staff from throughout the hospital responded to the incident. We had 11 children, ages 4 to 11 I believe,” says Michael Hester, Liberty Regional Medical Center.

For the most part, the children just had bumps and bruises and 10 were discharged. One child was transferred to Memorial Health for what is believed to be an orthopedic issue.

But the Liberty County community is mourning the loss of Cambria tonight — a loss some parents say is hard to imagine.

“You know, I was crying for a good 30 minutes while I was reading the story,” says Jadine Pangelinan, whose son attends Taylors Creek Elementary. “I was like, God, you know, I couldn’t imagine if that was my son.”

Pangelinan says not knowing which school bus was involved in the accident was unnerving. While the parents and guardians of the children involved in the accident were notified — others were left wondering.

But in light of the tragedy, Pangelinan hopes this will spark change for the future.

“100 percent, everybody needs to buckle up. Like what happened today… anything can happen,” she says. “It’s just better safe than sorry.”

News 3’s Andrew Davis recently took a closer look at the issue of seat belts on school buses.

In Beaufort County, he found that outfitting just one county bus could cost close to $400,000. That works out to be more than 11,000 per average size school bus.

Georgia State Patrol is investigating the accident. Grief counselors are available to all students and staff in Liberty County who may need help.

News 3 will continue to bring you further updates on the investigation.

Lewis Levine, Coastal News Service, contributed to this story and provided video and photos.

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