Oct. 15—PLAISTOW — Gina Lynch says she was on her way to Timberlane Regional High School, where her daughter was waiting for a ride home Tuesday, when a school bus sped by just "millimeters" from her car.
Lynch could tell right away that something was wrong. She says the driver was slumped over the steering wheel and the school bus was traveling incredibly fast.
Stephanie Geary, who was driving in front of Lynch, had a similar view. She had to swerve out of the way, she said, as the bus came toward her.
Geary recalls thinking the bus was empty because she could see no faces through the windows.
It turns out the six elementary schoolers on board were just small enough to be hidden from view.
Both women remember pulling over and jumping out of their cars as the speeding bus crashed down an embankment.
"It was going at least 50-60 mph, went airborne and into the woods," Lynch said. "I couldn't believe what I was seeing."
They say a man, whose name they didn't get, was also by their side. Together, the trio was able to pry open the back door of the bus.
"All we could hear was screaming kids," Lynch said. "It was horrifying. The bus was tilted to its side and we knew we wanted to get the kids off as quickly as possible. We didn't know how stable it was and if it would continue to fall."
Lynch and Geary worked on bringing the kids — one by one — up the hill to safety. They say the man tended to the bus driver, who was having a seizure.
According to Plaistow Fire Chief Chris Knutsen, the woman behind the wheel was brought to a hospital in stable condition. Her status days later is unknown.
The six children on board were elementary schoolers from Atkinson Academy headed to the Plaistow YMCA for after-school daycare. Only one, a girl, is said to have reported a minor leg injury.
However, Lynch worries about the lasting impacts of the crash.
"I'm sure these children are going to be scarred. They were extremely scared," Lynch said. "They didn't want to leave the bus driver. They were more concerned about her."
She commends their upbringing.
"In that moment," she said, "those kids were selfless."