NEW MANCHESTER - A motorcyclist was killed Wednesday afternoon when his bike struck a Hancock County school bus head-on and burst into flames.
There were no students on the bus, which was on its way from the bus garage in New Cumberland to pick up students at Oak Glen High School. The male bus driver was not injured.
"We're very, very thankful that there were no kids on the bus," said Superintendent Suzan Smith, who declined further comment.
"I have a great sense of sadness for the family of the person who was on the motorcycle. I certainly send my condolences," she said.
Smith would not identify the bus driver. "He's OK," she said.
Hancock County Sheriff Mike White said the motorcycle driver was southbound on state Route 8 behind a line of three vehicles at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday when the accident happened. The first vehicle in the line was turning left with its signal on, according to witnesses.
The motorcycle driver was unable to stop in time and clipped the rear of the third vehicle, throwing him into the path of the oncoming school bus, which was northbound on Route 8 near the entrance of Tomlinson Run State Park, White said. The motorcycle then slid under the school bus and caught fire.
Pending notification of relatives, authorities did not identify the victim, except to say that he was from Hancock County.
The accident closed a quarter-mile stretch of Route 8 for several hours as sheriff's deputies rerouted southbound traffic down Pittinger Road. School bus routes also were delayed because of the accident.
Volunteer firefighters from New Manchester and New Cumberland took some time to bring the fire under control.
White said the motorcyclist probably was going too fast. "We believe that his speed contributed to this, and that he didn't get stopped in time," he said.
"He just got locked up and lost control," White said.
The motorcyclist's body went under the bus with the bike and then was thrown clear, onto the road, White said. The bike lodged under the middle of the bus, where fire did the most extensive damage.
Assisting at the accident scene were sheriff's reserve officers, the West Virginia Division of Highways, Tri-County Ambulance, and park rangers from Tomlinson Run State Park.
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