Bus driver Denise Powell, 60, died on Friday after the school bus she was driving from Olivet Elementary School was struck by an oncoming Nissan Murano and then swerved into the opposite lane to collide with a Volkswagen Jetta.
The accident happened about 4 p.m. on County Road 540 in Pittsgrove Township, N.J., according to a Facebook post by the New Jersey State Police. Powell, of Newfield, drove an eastbound International 3000 bus carrying 19 students. A westbound Nissan Murano, driven by 70-year-old Pearl Caudill, crossed the center lines and struck the school bus, police reported. After impact, both the bus and the Nissan swerved into the westbound lane and struck a Volkswagen Jetta, and all three vehicles traveled off the right side of the road.
Caudill died of her injuries at the scene, police said. The bus driver was airlifted to Cooper Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead. The driver of the Volkswagen, who wasn't identified in the police statement, was taken to another hospital with minor injuries. Two students went to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries as a precaution.
The crash remains under investigation.
Powell, who also served as a school cafeteria worker, was mourned by her superintendent in the aftermath of the accident.
In a statement on the Pittsgrove Township School community, Superintendent Matthew "Matt" Carey wrote:
"Ms. Powell was a beloved member of our district for over 20 years....The children loved her and her colleagues did as well. She passed serving the school community. Denise Powell is a hero."