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Buses in mishaps as icy conditions prevail

By Jeanne Sager
LIVINGSTON MANOR — March 4, 2008 — Joseph Dinilte is one “heckuva driver.”
That from a man who’s seen some incredible driving in his days – Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Luis Alvarez.
Dinilte was at the wheel of the Livingston Manor School bus that slid into a snowbank early yesterday morning on Dahlia Road. But it could have been a lot worse.
“On the crest of the hill, it was just a sheet of ice,” Alvarez explained. “He used the snowbank to slow the bus down.
“He did a good maneuver,” Alvarez continued, “on the other side was a lake, and he would have been hitting trees … ”
The accident stopped traffic in both directions on one of the steep hills heading in and out of Livingston Manor, but not one of the 14 children on board was hurt.
Superintendent Debra Lynker said Dinilte was one of two bus drivers who actually pulled off the road because of ice – in his case, that ice made the proactive move impossible, landing the bus in the ditch.
“The driver handled it very well,” Lynker noted.
Dinilte, a Manor resident, has been driving for Rolling V Bus Company for the past 15 years, according to owner Phil Vallone.
“I don’t think he’s missed a day of work in years,” Vallone said, speaking to the veteran driver’s dedication to his job and his kids.
Dinilte’s driven the same route day in and day out – he knows just how treacherous Dahlia Hill can be in inclement weather.
The freezing rain Monday morning began after 7 a.m., and the buses were already out on the road, Lynker said.
“It came upon them suddenly, and there wasn’t much they could do,” she noted.
Driving home the danger of the situation for Alvarez wasn’t the bus mishap but what happened after he’d responded in his squad car – the plow truck, headed up Dahlia Road to sand the crest where Dinilte went sliding, got stuck.
Car slides into back of bus
The freezing rain was also blamed for an accident in Liberty involving a Monticello Central School bus on its way to Sullivan County BOCES.
According to New York State Police, the bus was stopped on Old Route 17 waiting to make a left-hand turn onto County Road 71 when it was struck from behind by a driver unable to stop.
Cassandra Engelmann, 20, of Monticello, slid her 2003 Ford passenger sedan on Old Route 17 into the rear of the bus, the vehicle finally coming to stop with the entire hood underneath the bus. She was uninjured.
The Ford had to be towed from the scene, but the bus sustained no damage.
All 10 children onboard, as well as the adult attendant and driver Amy Arroyo, were uninjured, and the bus was able to continue on its way to BOCES.
No tickets were issued.

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