COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. -- Eight children were taken to the hospital, and two of them are in serious condition after a tractor-trailer hit a stopped school bus in North Carolina on Tuesday morning, authorities said.
Two adults, including the driver, were airlifted to an area hospital as well, Acme-Delco-Riegelwood Fire-Rescue Chief Steve Camlin said.
The Head Start bus was stopped on US Route 74/76 in Columbus County to pick up a student, Camlin said.
The driver of the 53-foot truck had reached down to pick up a cigarette when saw the bus was stopped, the chief said.
The truck driver swerved but hit the bus, Camlin said. A FedEx truck that was behind the 18-wheeler also hit the bus, which rolled three times after being hit he said.
The bus carrying the eight students and two adults, including the driver, had just left the Ransom Head Start Center in Riegelwood, about 20 miles northwest of Wilmington, according to Camlin.
Images from the scene show the bus in a roadside ditch with the rear corner on the driver's side peeled away, leaving an open hole in the corner of the bus.
The two seriously injured students were taken to the trauma center at the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, Camlin said.
The drivers of the tractor-trailer and FedEx trucks were uninjured.
Charges are pending against the driver of the tractor-trailer, Camlin said.