Police Investigate Washington St. Crash with School Buses

WHAV held this story until conflicting accounts could be resolved. (Photograph courtesy of Anita Rutherford.)

Haverhill police are investigating the circumstances of a city motorist involved in two collisions—involving school buses—moments apart last Thursday within a Washington Street block and, as a result, he and four others were injured.

According to a police accident report obtained by WHAV, a 2000 Subaru operated by Alcides Melendez, 68, of 16 Baldwin St., Haverhill, “emerged from Porter Street and crashed” into a 2000 Hyundai traveling westbound on Washington Street, then continued westbound on Washington until Melendez’s vehicle collided into the rear of a stopped, city-owned 2011 Chevrolet school bus near 375 Washington St. That vehicle, in turn, rolled into the rear of a 2009 Ford school bus, owned by Transpro, Medford, which was also stopped in “preparing to drop off students.” Melendez and two passengers from his vehicle were transported to Lawrence General Hospital with unspecified injuries. The Hyundai’s driver, Anita L. Rutherford of Haverhill, was “uninjured on scene,” but was later transported by family to Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack Valley after informing police “she was in moderate pain and had concerns.” The driver of the city-owned bus, Caroline R. King of Haverhill, was alone in that vehicle. She was checked by emergency medical personnel and refused further treatment. The other bus driver, Ruben Ventura of Lawrence; and four passengers on board were unhurt.

“Mr. Ventura stated that all passengers were still strapped into their child safety seats and no one in his vehicle was injured. EMS (emergency medical services) did check each passenger as well as Mr. Ventura and no injuries were detected,” wrote Haverhill Police Officer Dennis Moriarty in the report. Parents were contacted and advised of the incident before “all passengers were delivered to their families.”

Accounts from three witnesses who “came forward” and interviewed separately by police “provided the same account of events but from different vantage points,” according to Moriarty. Police issued a citation to Melendez, according to the report. However, specifics were either not listed or blacked out from the report by the department.

Except for the bus owned by Transpro, the other vehicles sustained either heavy or severe damage and were towed from the scene.

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