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School bus accident in Copake

November 8, 2019 09:50 am Updated: November 8, 2019 07:25 pm

TAGHKANIC — Four students and a bus driver suffered injuries when a school bus veered off the road and crashed into a tree on Friday, according to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

The crash occurred at about 7:30 a.m. on Pumpkin Hollow Road, just east of County Route 27.

The bus driver, Christopher Fitch, 57, of Niverville, was driving east on Pumpkin Hollow Road, when, for reasons that are under investigation, drove off the south side of the road. The rear passenger side of the bus struck the tree and the bus came to a stop.

Ten students were on the bus at the time of the crash and were on their way to Taconic Hills Central School, 73 County Route 11A. Four students reported having head pain. Two students and the bus driver were evaluated at the scene, and taken to Columbia Memorial Health for minor injuries, according to a statement from the school district. Fitch complained of head and neck pain, police said.

An additional student was taken to Columbia Memorial Health by parents and the final student was transported to Copake Urgent Care by the student’s parents.

The remaining students were released to their parents at the scene or returned to school where they were evaluated by the school nurse, according to the district.

A bus was dispatched to the location to transport the remaining students who were not injured to Taconic Hills School.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the cause of the crash as of 2:30 p.m. Friday.

Fitch was taken to Albany Medical Center by Community Rescue Squad.

Sgt. Heath Benansky of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office was expected to conduct a commercial motor vehicle inspection of the bus Friday afternoon.

The 2005 ICRP bus appeared to have been damaged and dented on its rear right side. It is registered to Michael Johnston.

“Thank you to the New York State Police, Columbia County Sheriff’s Department, Taghkanic Fire Department, Copake Community Rescue, Greenport Rescue, and district personnel for their response at the scene,” the school district said.

Investigating for the Sheriff’s Office are Sheriff David Bartlett, Undersheriff John Davi, Capt. John DeRocha, Lt. Wayne Lopez, Benansky, Sgt. Peter Grzeskow, and Deputies Samantha Plass, Peter Merante, and Andrew Horst.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.