ALMA, Ga. (WSAV) – A crash in Bacon County Wednesday afternoon claimed a driver’s life and sent several students to the hospital.
The driver has now been identified as Johnathon Grayer, of Jacksonville, Florida. He was 25.
Officials say Grayer was driving a rental truck just before 4 p.m. on the south end of U.S. Highway 1 near Sweetgum Road when he crashed into the back of a school bus.
According to Georgia State Patrol (GSP), the preliminary investigation revealed the bus was stopped, unloading students when the crash occurred.
GSP says there were 10 students on the bus at the time; three were taken to Shands in Jacksonville and three to Bacon County Hospital. The bus driver, Jerry Sweat, was also injured and taken to Bacon County Hospital.
At least two helicopters were called to the scene to medevac students, according to Bacon County Emergency Management Agency Director Danny Turner. But GSP says the students’ injuries are reported to be non-life-threatening.
“We’ve had other accidents and tragedies and things like that in the past, but this one… had you shaken the most out of all of them,” said Tyler Beach a Bacon County Fire/EMS Compliance Officer.
According to GSP Trooper Shane Copeland, with the Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team (SCRT), both drivers were able to help get students out of the bus to safety — but Grayer collapsed.
He was also taken to Bacon County Hospital where he died.
Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted about the incident Wednesday night, saying his family is praying for the truck driver and his loved ones, and the students.
Officials were able to clear the highway to traffic around 7 p.m.
“It was actually unbelievable for a population of 11 thousand in Bacon County,” said Beach. “We couldn’t believe the support and all the resources that were available in a moment’s notice. I can’t say thank you enough to everyone who showed up and helped respond.”
News 3 is told weather did not play a factor in the crash. SCRT is conducting a follow-up investigation.