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UPDATE: Pick-up Driver Dead; 11 Students Suffer Minor Injuries in School Bus Accident

Eleven students and bus driver suffers very minor injuries and are released. Pick-up truck driver died in collision.

Editor's Note: this article was updated at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

7 p.m. update: A pick-up truck driver was killed while 11 intermediate students and a bus driver suffered minor injuries in a collision at Yellowbank and Fischer Boulevard in the afternoon accident.

Damage from a downed traffic light kept southbound lanes closed through 7 p.m., as Toms River Police, utility crews and the Ocean County Prosecutors Office continue to respond to the 2:26 p.m. incident.

Toms River Police Chief Michael Mastronardy said 34 students were on the bus, which was southbound on Fischer Boulevard after leaving Toms River Intermediate East. Bus No. 101 collided with a pickup truck that was northbound on Fischer, attempting a left turn onto Yellowbank Road westbound.

The driver of the pickup, Thomas Grouss, a 60 year-old Toms River resident, died as a result of the crash, Mastronardy said.

The bus was evacuated after colliding with a traffic light and a parked car on Ruby Road. Students and the driver were evacuated onto a residential lawn and triaged by emergency responders, Mastronardy said.

Multiple units responded to the intersection: Corporeal Frank Palino supervised the EMS response with ambulances from Island Heights, Tri-Boro, Silverton and Toms River Police EMS.

The 11 students and the bus driver were transported to Community Medical Center but released with very minor injuries, said the police chief. Toms River schools officials assisted reuniting the students with parents, deploying another bus to the scene to pick up the children.

"The school bus was equipped with seat belts, however some of the students admitted they did not have them on but promised they would in the future," said Mastronardy in an email.

4:30 p.m. update: A Toms River school bus accident has closed Fischer Boulevard between Shore Boulevard and Bellcrest Plaza, causing minor injuries to 11 student passengers and serious injuries to the driver of a pick-up truck. The bus driver also reported minor injuries.

Toms River Police Chief Michael Mastronardy said the bus — No. 101 — was carrying children from Intermediate East when it collided with a pickup truck at about 2:30 p.m. 

Students have been picked up from the scene by another Toms River Regional Schools bus. 

Parents reported to Toms River Patch that several of the children chose to walk home from the accident scene while others boarded another school bus for transport home.

The 11 students and the bus driver were transported to Community Medical Center and released, Mastronardy said.

The name of the driver of the pick-up truck was not released as of 4:30 p.m.

Toms River Regional staff as well as JCP&L crews were on the scene of the accident to help assist with the response.

The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office is investigating. The pickup truck has since been removed from the scene.

A downed traffic signal poll at the southwest corner of the intersection near Yellowbank Road and Ruby Road has Fischer Boulevard closed to southbound traffic from Shore Boulevard to Bellcrest Plaza. Yellowbank is closed from Emerald Court to Fischer Boulevard through 3:30 p.m.

The traffic pole was completely downed by the impact, sending the traffic light into the street and knocking it off its steel union. The school bus came to a rest on Ruby Road, which runs parallel with Fischer Boulevard.

Investigators from the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, Sheriff's Department and local police remain at the scene. A JCP&L crew also responded. 

Toms River Regional is offering support to the families involved and has three resources available, according to a statement released this afternoon: "Any parent whose child was riding in BUS 101 and feels their child is in need of counseling services, please contact the following resources: TLC (732) 773- 8007; Pess (732) 886-4474; Mobile Resources (1877) 652-7624."

EducatedCitizen April 06, 2012 at 12:35 AM
AWESOME post! You said it best! All these internet trolls on here want to do is blame someone for something. "TRPD gets paid too much" "where was the fire department, MY taxes pay for them". Does that post-er actually believe that the officers responding did not assess if they needed the fire department??? This was a tragic accident..accidents happen. There are 20+ accidents a day in Toms River......this just happen to be one that was a fatal, and involved a school bus. "A Citizen...please continue to post, you are one of the few level headed people left in our society!
Christine Fay Lewkowicz April 06, 2012 at 12:38 AM
prayers for the family that lost a family member from the truck. Thank goodness the kids are ok. Hope that they all heal quickly.
Just thinking April 06, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Since that intersection was re done with the turning lanes I have seen many near misses with drivers turning onto Yellow bank thinking that they have a green light to do so,It was obvious from the photos that the impact to the P/u was on the Passenger side so he was making a left! Not a right on red! Prayers for all involved.....the Bus may have had a camera that could shed more light as to what happened
Amy April 06, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Wow what a shame. That intersection is horrible. Irregardless of who's fault it is someone is dead, a bus driver may never be the same again knowing he killed a human being and children witnessing such trauma. We need to be more kinder. It's Easter for god sakes!!!! While people will be celebrating with their loved ones, another family is planning a funeral.
just me April 06, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Well said, Citizen.
A Citizen April 06, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Thank you EducatedCitizen.
A Citizen April 06, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Thank you as well just me.
just me April 06, 2012 at 01:28 AM
My "well said, Citizen" comment was meant for you "A Citizen" ... but, now you'll have to share my sentiment with "Educated Citizen" since I also agree with their post.
jack April 06, 2012 at 01:42 AM
I cant wait to move out of Toms River. Someone lost their life in a tragic accident and look what you people post.
mars April 06, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Amy, you said it "in a nut shell". Thank you!
vrdl April 06, 2012 at 03:33 AM
That is a dangerous intersection where there have been numerous accidents. The traffic light should have a leading left green signal to reduce accidents and prevent another fatality. Condolences to the family and speedy recoveries for physical and emotional injuries as a result of this tragic accident.
Rachel Tomasi April 06, 2012 at 03:33 AM
People I feel safe posting this bc I heard from numerous people the driver not the bus driver ran thru a red light and that they felt it was due to an existing pre crash health issue. Maybe he had a heart attack behind the wheel and was kinda busy trying to breathe and being in agony to stop. I DONT KNOW for certain nor do the people who were there know every angle. THAT is what INVESTIGATIONS led by the police and DA is for. IMHO our job is to simply say a prayer or think a good thought if you're not the praying type wishing the man who lost his life safe passage and to RIP and that the children heal fully and speedily physically and emotionally. Even kids not on that bus were devastated and on the kids facebooks thats all they could talk about. They made more sense then some of you. idc what school they're in, my daughter is 11 And will be till late August is that young enough to be concerned if GD forbid she walked away dazed from a terrible accident on a walk she would NEVER be allowed on in normal circumstances as we've lived on Shore Blvd for 3 yrs and 7 now behind Bellcrest and we have seen many awful accidents, I got driving anxiety when used to drive far distances after moving to TR. I have never been so scared in recent history as not knowing which bus at first when my 9 yr old was due home in about 10 min when I heard, the helicopters were already arriving and I was reading reports from kids on the scene on my sons page. This was a terrible day for many.
Rachel Tomasi April 06, 2012 at 03:46 AM
I ran out of room. I wish they'd tell you when you hit the limit instead of letting you pour your heart out only to be told "easy there tolstoy" bit anyway I'll wrap up by saying to the family of the man whose life was lost we don't all Jump to conclusions and if it was a left despite all the kids in the bus who've said otherwise, we all know how fast the school buses drive here, it's crazy. So even then there is probably blame to be shared if anything. Im VERY sorry for your loss. And to all the parents who got that dreaded call tg the kids are ok now from my understanding that they've all gone home and I hope their emotional recovery is swift. We all need to stick together against the bad guys who set out to do bad not fight amongst ourselves but be united neighbors! C'mon people we're capable of so much more; you mostly lol all sound fairly well educated. Thx for letting me have my say, I was terribly shaken for hours over this. I don't know how I made myself go to my sons scrimmage.
TomK April 06, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Agree with everything you said, Amy. As someone who frequently makes that left turn, it can be dangerous for a few reasons. For one, you can be sitting at that light for a while if the Fischer traffic is heavy. I can honestly say I have never done it, but I've seen people in front of me take a risk and make that turn right when the light turns red. For another, I have always felt there is a bit of a depth perception issue going on there - could just be me, but I have always thought that I have a tougher time judging just how far away the traffic is when I am making that turn as compared to other left turns. And lastly, if someone is sitting in the left-hand lane on the other side of Fischer, you really can't see over that car - especially if it is a truck or SUV. I can see where someone may just make that turn without fully knowing if someone is coming on the other side or not. The intersection is in need of a "Left turn on green arrow" only type of deal, like they have by the Rite-Aid. Regardless, a man lost his life today and many people's lives will be forever altered. That's the most important thing. Hindsight is 20/20, and although I have always thought the intersection wasn't the safest in town, in my 7 years living in the neighborhood, I haven't heard much about bad accidents happening there. Sometimes, accidents happen - no matter how many layers of safety are implemented.
Taxpayer of toms river April 06, 2012 at 07:00 AM
Hey buckshot let me add this How can the fire department go if they never dispatch the fire company this is not the fire company means at all trust me they would go and show up if they were dispatched to go but the police department doesn't want the fire department at the scene because then they loose control go to the police department and ask them why the fire company wasent dispatched and see what kind of answers you get it's a joke
G Male April 06, 2012 at 07:50 AM
50 MPH is too fast on Fischer. Too much traffic and too many cars to keep the speed limit at 50. I have seen many, many close misses on this road. Praying for all those hurt by this incident.
bob April 06, 2012 at 10:55 AM
i have buses flying down my strreet all the time they need to slow down
. April 06, 2012 at 11:36 AM
I live nearby and hear many different versions of how it happened. If they were both traveling on Fischer, one northbound and one southbound, they would both have had the same color light, Either they both had green or both had red. I think the truck driver just misjudged the speed of the bus while turning. That is a bad intersection which has been the scene of some bad accidents in recent years. Those turning lanes, which are often misused, by people traveling in them are very dangerous. It was an accident. I don't think either driver set out for any of this to happen. So sorry for the family of the pick up driver.
Kathy April 06, 2012 at 11:55 AM
used to live on Yellowbank Road before the traffic light was installed. It was a risk then to cross over Fischer Blvd. to get to the other side. Now live in NC where the middle turn lane is on most roads. Still can not get used to it.
suz April 06, 2012 at 12:13 PM
My condolences go out to the family who lost a loved one. I do need to "vent" however...It may have been the truck drivers fault, but (just saying) that I have been on routes doing the speed limit and school buses fly past me all the time. Yes, they are full of kids. Why totally put blame on anyone. That is why they are called accidents. In my opinion, maybe both sides should be held responsible for their actions? Oh I agree with A Citizen, parents should take the bubble wrap off their kids once in a while...children today are so spoiled because some give and do EVERYTHING for their children to the point that they can't function on their own when necessary. Listen to conversations these kids have one day...you will always hear " I and me" and never "we and us". No wonder that we are raising a generation of me, me me spoiled bullies.
Eggs-n-Toast April 06, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Absolutely agree! That center turn lane (used by both sides) IS a suicide lane, no doubt about it. So many places to turn left, what with all the driveways to banks, strip malls, shopping centers, fast food places, etc. Fischer Blvd is a nightmare with that center turn lane. There are too many opportunities for error and unfortunately an error most often means an accident. They need traffic lights and /or jug handles for left turns.
Xavier April 06, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Where do you see a pole down? I see a traffic signal pole but no high voltage lines anywhere.
Xavier April 06, 2012 at 01:32 PM
If it had a camera it was more than likely pointing toward the back of the bus at the children, not out the windshield.
Nicole April 06, 2012 at 06:04 PM
You have never made a mistake while driving and always do the speed limit, always use your turn signal, come to a complete stop, etc...really? Stones and glass houses don't go well together. How about a little compassion for a man who lost his life? Ever think he has a family who are now in mourning for losing him so young and tragically? Just think before opening your mouth as to how you would feel if it was your family member.
animalheart April 07, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Well, I usually don't read this but, this time I did. I agree with quite a few of you. I think when children are involved that person was right. it will get tremendous headlines. To parents and grandparents which I am, it is a scary thing to hear and yes, emotions run high. To the persons who agreed that the fire dept. was most likely called off would be the police making that call. Lets me think police had it together and first aid team. I commend them. To the person who reminded everyone these people are all volunteers that give their time up to help us citizens deserve a big Thank You. To the response team in the choppers flying over to medi vac. Thank You. To the family of the driver my sympathy to them They are in for a rocky road of grief and finger pointing of their lost one. To the parents of the children that were on that bus. God Bless that they were all okay. Terrible fright. To the bus driver who did what he/she could to see to it that they survived good job. I agree speeding on that road and yes, I too have had bus drivers flying past me. But, bottom line is there was a tragic accident and someone lost their life. RIP and can we all take a breather on that before fireing away. The person isn't even buried yet. Peace.
joe kozakiewicz April 07, 2012 at 09:22 PM
I worked with Tom Grouss for years. He was a recently retired hard working electrician who was intelligent and caring. He always had a smile, and is somewhere relieved that no one else was hurt.
1stcav April 07, 2012 at 10:24 PM
It's got way to MANY speed limits, 40 , 45 & 50 counting on which section your on, that in itself is a big problem ! Solid DOUBLE lines are crossed on a daily basis, if it's a broken line then you can cross oncoming lanes, but people turn whereever and whenever they please. There should be one speed limit of the entire road and 35 MPH is plenty fast enough in this strip mall road called Fisher Blvd.How many deaths does it take for those in the County and State to do something???? Elected Officials your silence is deafening.. RIP Tom, and condolences to his family he will be missed on the Block and by ALL who loved him.A true gentleman and a pleasure to have known. Mr. & Mrs Ryan
Jay Sorensen April 07, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Fischer Blvd has become Raceway Park. I agree with one of the above posters. The speed limit is all over the place. And I will say that virtually NOBODY slows down when when it hits 40 near the firehouse. I have to turn left to get to my house (going south) in the cross-over lane. I can't tell you how many times people fly by me going 60. Speed limits in this region are a joke. Not enough enforcement. I know the cops can't be everywhere, but school buses often are the worst offenders! I know they have a schedule, but jeez. I am NOT saying this was the case with this incident. Condolences to the family of course. But we don't know all of the facts with this one just yet. It could have simply been an accident or something went wrong. Oh...and now that speed bumps have been in for over a year on Beachview (Speedway Blvd) they are now doing 45 on Marshall and Bergen Ave. Just sayin. So the well-to-do along the bay don't want ANY inconvenience with their Beemers, Hummers, Mercedes, etc... If the bumps slow them down, they just use another street and go just as fast as before...in a 25 mph zone. Don't get me started. BE BIG!
G Male April 09, 2012 at 07:07 AM
Well, we have a voice, lets use it here. Lets work on the powers that be, to prevent this from happening again. As a taxi driver in town, I can tell you SPEED is definitely a major problem on this road. How about those left turns out of the Spirit Liquors across from ShopRite? How many near misses in the center turn lanes are there a day?? I hope we use our Social Media for the good here and make changes.
. April 09, 2012 at 10:43 AM
I agree with you about the left turns out of Spirts and also the car wash. I was at the car wash the other day when I heard about the school bus accident. It had just happened and the helicopter was still overhead. The woman leaving the lot ahead of me, with her daughter in the car, made a left out of that lot as fast as she could possibly go. Fischer was is so busy in that spot, would it have been so bad to go right and go around the block?

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