Thirteen middle school and high school students were injured enough to be taken to a Roanoke hospital this morning after a Botetourt County school bus rolled on its roof in a one-vehicle accident.

State Police said none of the injuries were life threatening.

The bus wrecked on Rt. 681—Zion Hill Road— in a rural area south of Eagle Rock. There were 39 Central Academy Middle School and James River High School students and the driver on board.

State Police investigators look over the Botetourt County school bus that wrecked Wednesday morning with 39 students aboard.

A VDOT worker was the first on the scene followed by a neighbor. The VDOT employee had passed the spot where the wreck occurred and was returning back up the road after setting out road signs when he came up on the bus.

He complimented the actions of some of the older students who were already helping others out of the overturned bus.

The wreck occurred   across the road from where John Booth lives. He’s a long-time rescue volunteer and a member of the Eagle Rock Rescue Squad. He said he heard what sounded like a loud boom. When he went outside, he could hear the students hollering.

State Police said the driver, Mary Elizabeth Esque, 35, of Eagle Rock, was charged with reckless driving. She had minor injuries and was not taken to the hospital. She was wearing a seatbelt.

She told State Police she was distracted by a student and took her eyes off the road. The bus was southbound and had topped a hill with a slight turn when it ran off the right shoulder. The bus, No. 41, slid along a slight drop off and rolled on its roof before coming to a stop. The bus is a 2005, 64-passenger Blue Bird Bus.

The accident occurred at about 8:20 a.m.

County emergency services officials said six county ambulances and one Roanoke County ambulance handled the transports to Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

Emergency Services Director Carr Boyd said career and volunteer crews from Eagle Rock, Fincastle, Read Mountain, Troutville, Glen Wilton and Blue Ridge responded, as did two units from Roanoke County.

Boyd said the Sheriff’s Department had two school resource officers on the scene very quickly, and the information flow about the accident helped emergency medical crews who were responding, and in notifying parents.

School Superintendent Dr. Tony Brads said the bus driver was placed on administrative leave because she was charged with reckless driving and pending further investigation of the accident.

State Police Motor Carrier and Accident Reconstruction Team members were on the scene to assist in the investigation. Officer Chris Price is the investigating officer.

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