By Bill Kirk
---- — GEORGETOWN — A bus carrying the University of Maine girls' basketball team, coaches and staff veered from the southbound side of Route 95 at 8:30 tonight, crossed into the northbound side, and went into the woods on the far side of the highway.
The driver, whose identity is not known, was trapped in the bus with serious but non-life threatening injuries and had to be extricated by firefighters. He was flown from the scene by Med-Flight to Boston Medical Cente.
According to a press release issued by a spokeswoman for the college, Coach Richard Barron was also injured, along with players Ashleigh Roberts and Corinne Wellington. In addition, Samantha Wheeler, the team's director of basketball operations, was also hurt.
The University of Maine athletic director said he was told by the coach that the driver had some kind of medical incident and passed out while driving. The coach even tried grabbing the steering wheel at one point.
A half-dozen ambulances were sent to the scene and transported the injured passengers to area hospitals, including Beverly, Anna Jaques in Newburyport, and Merrimack Valley Hospital in Haverhill.
The vehicle was owned by Cyr Bus Line, a commercial carrier out of Old Towne, Maine.
A State Police cruiser, pulling off to the side of the highway just north of the bus crash, was hit from behind. No injuries are believed to have resulted.
The highway was shut down at the Route 133 exit for a short period of time while the helicopter landed to take the driver from the scene. Two of the lanes remained closed while the passengers were tended to by rescue crews. All but one lane of the highway was reopened by 9:30 p.m. The accident scene was located between Tenney and Jewett streets, which is north of the Route 133 exit.
It may take up to two hours to remove the vehicle from the woods.