Wednesday July 11, 2012

BECKET -- A camp bus carrying eight 11-year-olds drove off an embankment on Jacob's Ladder Road on Tuesday morning, sending five of the campers to the hospital with minor injuries, according to authorities.

The children had been released from Berkshire Medical Center and were back at Camp Becket by late afternoon, said Philip Connor, the CEO of Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA, which runs the camp on Hamilton Road.

"Their spirits are good," said Connor. "They're glad to be back at camp."

Becket Police said speed may have been a factor in the crash and that charges against the driver, who was not identified, are possible.

In addition to the eight campers, there were four adults on the 14-passenger bus. All were wearing seat belts, Conner said. First responders characterized the injuries as consisting primarily of "bumps and bruises."

The crash took place just after 11:30 p.m. on Jacob's Ladder Road (Route 20) in Becket near the intersection with Main Street, said Becket Fire Chief Ray Tarjick. The bus was eastbound, returning the children from an overnight camping trip.

"It could have been a lot worse," Tarjick said.

Connor said it was too early to say what, if any, disciplinary action the driver might face.

"We're going to wait for the police report and should the police report indicate that there was any sort of distraction or anything, we'll certainly be suspending the driver's privileges," he said. "Safety is a huge concern and anything that threatens the safety of a camper or staff member is a huge concern."

Camp Becket hosts 296 campers from across New England and 130 staff members, Connor said.

In addition to crews from the Becket Fire Department, EMS crews from Otis, Lee and County Ambulance in Pittsfield responded.

Becket Police officers were assisted at the scene by state police.