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Correction to This Article
An Oct. 1 Metro article about the aftermath of a fatal Sept. 29 tour bus crash in Montgomery County incorrectly said that the crash occurred on Interstate 70. It occurred on Interstate 270.

Four adults still in hospital after Montgomery, Md., bus crash

A tour bus carrying children and adults crashed through a metal guardrail and tumbled down the embankment of an Interstate 270 spur Wednesday afternoon, killing the driver, injuring about a dozen others and bringing rush-hour traffic to a standstill.

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Map of bus crash site
Gene Thorp/The Washington Post
By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 30, 2010; 10:58 PM

Four adults remained hospitalized Thursday as state and federal investigators tried to determine how a tour bus burst through an interstate guardrail in Montgomery County, tumbled down an embankment and left the driver dead.

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All six children aboard the bus - ages 7 to 12 - have been released from hospitals. The 11th passenger, another adult, also has been released.

Meanwhile, in Hanover, Pa., friends and relatives of the driver, Joseph A. Clabaugh, mourned the 66-year-old retired police officer who left behind a wife and two sons.

"Joyce has lost her best friend and the love of her life," said Randy Whitson, Hanover Borough police chief. "And the two boys lost their best friend and an example of what manhood is really about."

Clabaugh joined the Hanover Borough police force in 1967. "Joe was the stereotypical police officer that the public envisions. Tall, stood straight, shoes were always shined," Whitson said.

He showed little interest in rising past the rank of sergeant, Whitson said. He continued to do shift work on the streets into his mid-50s.

Clabaugh started driving buses while still working as an officer and continued after he retired. He enjoyed the travel and camaraderie of being around people, Whitson said.

His wise-cracking humor can still be seen on his Facebook page. "Just got back from Hollywood Casino," he reported Sept. 18. "I have my shirt and a handful of change left."

On Wednesday, he drove five adults and six students from St. Patrick School in Carlisle, Pa. The children had the day off, because Catholic schools in the area were closed for teacher in-service training. Several families got together to go to Washington, said Joe Aponick, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg.

About 4 p.m., as the bus traveled from Washington on its way back to Pennsylvania, it ran through a guardrail on the left side of an Interstate 270 spur in Bethesda and went down a 45-foot embankment.

Maryland State Police detectives interviewed witnesses Thursday over the phone and, when possible, in person, said Greg Shipley, a police spokesman.

An inspector with the state police's Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division conducted a full mechanical safety inspection of the bus Thursday. No violations were found, and the bus was declared in good working order, Shipley said.

Clabaugh's final autopsy results are pending, a spokeswoman with the Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said Thursday. She said test results have not been returned.

As of Thursday afternoon, four patients remained at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, according to state police and a hospital spokeswoman. They were identified as Sally Currie, 47, of Carlisle, who was listed in fair condition; Trina Manetta, 38, of Carlisle, in good condition; Helen Rockefeller, 74, of Endicott, N.Y., in fair condition, and Richard Lake 77, also of Endicott, in fair condition.


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