School Bus roll over in Botetourt County … on board students call 911

photo from WDBJ 7

A school bus in Botetourt County rolled over at approx. 08:20 am on Wednesday morning  (5/23/2012).

The bus had 39 students and the driver aboard.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation but it is believed to have been related to an on board argument.  The driver, it’s said; was distracted and looking into the rear view mirror prior to the accident.

That driver, Mary Elizabeth Esque of Eagle Rock Virginia; has been charged by Virginia State Police with “Reckless Driving”. She has also been temporarily suspended from her duties as a driver while the investigation continues. She has no prior driving citations.

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The bus involved was not equipped with seat belts or safety restraints.  Of the 39 students aboard, 13 were transported to local hospitals with what has been described as minor injuries. The call to 911 actually came from one of the on board students as the driver worked to remove others from the overturned vehicle.

Listen to the 911 call , video and more HERE


The incident was one of the first “tests” for the newly hired Carr Boyd ( related article HERE ).

Boyd was recently hired as the County’s Emergency Services Director despite a lot of opposition and controversy from local Volunteer Chiefs.

This MCI ( Mass Casualty Incident ) was apparently handled very smoothly and efficiently. Responding units were Botetourt’s career staff from Fincastle and Read Mountain Stations, volunteer members / equipment from Fincastle, Eagle Rock and Troutville, and mutual-aid from Roanoke County.

The Incident Commander was Division Chief Jason Ferguson.

I’m happy to see that the hiring of Carr Boyd has not resulted in the ” hurt feelings and busted noses” as suggested by Buchanan’s Volunteer Fire Chief Billy Joe Carter.

Read “Volunteer vs. Paid… Respect my Authoritah !!

The search for this position drew a lot of attention to Botetourt County’s Emergency Services (mostly here on  For many, it was an unneeded position. With a “school yard” type attitude, most of the opposition to the position was due to the fact that the Director has the authority to assume Command of an Emergency Incident. Some of the Volunteer Chiefs felt as if the new Director would exercise this authority and take command of all of “their” Incidents.

It almost seemed like their concern was more for their “ego” rather than the citizens and visitors of Botetourt County. Sadly, my investigation into the issue brought to light several more serious issues in Botetourt County Emergency Services.

Read “Volunteer Leadership

For more from, use the search box (top right) and keyword “Buchanan”

The fact that Boyd did not “take” command of this incident says a lot to me about his tactics. Obviously, Chief  Ferguson was able to and DID handle the situation appropriately. Boyd did not “take” command because he “out ranked” Ferguson …. it was about competence.  I believe Boyd would have handled himself in the same manner had a volunteer Chief been in “command” and doing a good job.

I think Director Boyd “passed” his first test and is doing a good job thus far. I look forward to seeing what improvements he can bring to Botetourt County and their provision of Fire and Emergency Medical Services.

My child was not on that bus but to every member and Department represented on scene … THANKS and WELL DONE!

Is your Department ready to handle a school bus accident, roll over or extrication? We have a GREAT source of information for you right here on the Fire/EMS Blog Network…..

Click to visit “First Due Tackle

Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines