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Falling driver sends bus into Medford yard

No one was hurt Monday when the driver of an otherwise empty Medford school bus apparently slipped off her seat, causing the bus to veer off course on South Columbus Avenue and crash into a residential front yard, authorities said.

The First Student bus took out the corner of a fence, a piece of a hedge and a tree stump when it ended up resting in Mike Lomas' front yard on the 600 block of South Columbus Avenue shortly after 2 p.m.

The driver, who Medford police identified as Patricia Gutt, 56, of Medford, was shaken but otherwise unhurt. Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said she was cited for careless driving.

"She said the crash was because she was having a seat belt issue that led to her falling out of her seat," Budreau said.

Gutt declined to comment at the scene.

Traffic was unaffected by the crash, which re-arranged Lomas' front yard.

"I'm just glad there were no kids on the bus," Lomas said. "She took out the stump. I was like, 'Yeah.' I was going to take it out this year so she saved me a lot of work."

Luana Bolinger of Medford, who was visiting Lomas when the crash occurred, said she rushed to the bus after the crash, wondering if there were any kids injured.

Bolinger, who is Lomas' mother, said the bus driver told her that she slipped out of her seat and that she grabbed the wheel as she fell.

"It was a good thing she was pulling it this way or she would have crashed into the house," Bolinger said.

Medford School District spokeswoman Natalie Hurd said the driver will be removed from duty pending an investigation of the wreck.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

Luana Bolinger of Medford examines the scene after a school bus left the road Monday and wound up in Bolinger's daughter's front yard. Mail Tribune / Mark Freeman