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Distracted school bus driver wrecks & wails

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SUMTER, SC (WIS) –

Video released by the Sumter Police Department shows what a smoking school bus driver was doing before and during a March accident that hospitalized two people.

In April, police charged Lauritha McGhaney with reckless driving, no seatbelt, and smoking on a school bus.

Police said that she lost control of the bus and collided with a car on Alice Dr. because she was trying to pick up a cigarette that she was smoking.

The video, released Friday, shows McGhaney put the bus in gear and start driving at approximately 4:16 p.m. on March 8. Seconds later, she appeared to grab a cigarette and a cup with some sort of liquid in it. She later placed the cup in a cup holder, but kept the cigarette in her hand.

As she continued driving, sometimes with only one hand on the wheel, she appeared to reach for an unidentified object next to her seat. Police said she was trying to recover a cigarette that she dropped, but the video shows the cigarette still in her left hand.

For unknown reasons, McGhaney then slipped out of her seat onto the floor, but kept two hands on the wheel.

At that point, she started screaming while trying to keep control of the bus. After veering into oncoming traffic and colliding with a car near Snowden St., she eventually collapsed on the floor.

The driver of the car and a passenger were taken to Tuomey Regional Medical Center. They were eventually released and are undergoing physical therapy due to injuries sustained in the accident.

There were no children in the bus at the time of the accident.

McGhaney was scheduled to appear at municipal court on May 3. The outcome of that appearance is not clear.

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