By Margie Wuebker
Two St. Henry students were injured when their bus was involved in a chain-reaction accident Thursday afternoon.
The 3:15 p.m. mishap occurred in the 5000 block of state Route 119 near Fleetfoot Road, according to Mercer County Sheriff's Office reports.
The St. Henry Consolidated Local Schools bus, driven by Mary Jo Delzeith, 45, 152 N. Sycamore St., St. Henry, was stopped eastbound at a private drive with red lights activated and stop sign extended.
Helen C. Wenning, 75, 8141 state Route 119, Maria Stein, stopped behind the bus which was dropping off students at the time. Louis W. Hartings, 85, 03824 state Route 119, Minster, failed to notice the vehicles were stopped, according to sheriff's office reports. He struck the back of the Wenning car pushing it into the bus.
Students Josh M. Stelzer, 9, 5054 state Route 119, St. Henry, and Ian M. Huelskamp, 9, 2244 Coldwater Creek Road, Celina, were taken by ambulance to Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater. Both were treated then released. Stelzer was in the process of exiting the bus at his home when the crash occurred. He reportedly struck his arm on the railing but did not fall.
The bus sustained minor damage and a second bus driven by Ron Dues responded to the scene after completing its route to transport the other 28 students home.
Deputies cited Hartings for an assured clear distance violation.
Both cars -- Wenning's 2002 Chevrolet Impala and Hartings' 1999 Buick Park Avenue -- received heavy damage and were towed from the scene.
Superintendent Rod Moorman lauded the efforts of the bus driver who quickly assessed the situation and contacted the central office in keeping with the school's "REDI" program.
"Mary Jo did an excellent job and so did elementary principal Sandy Stammen, the first administrator to arrive at the scene," Moorman said. "They were able to keep all the students calm."
Other administrators also went to the scene and Moorman also commended St. Henry squad members and firefighters for their quick responds.