Bus loses wheels on field trip

EAST DEER – Two wheels fell off a school bus with 25 Elk County children on board along state Route 28 on Thursday morning, but neither they nor the bus driver were injured, state police said.The driver, Walter Mehalko, 63, of Wilcox, was able to pull the crippled bus over to the side of the road between the Creighton (Exit 13) and Pittsburgh Mills (12A) exits at about 9 a.m.The bus was one of two from the Johnsonburg Area School District heading to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh.Superintendent Dennis Crotzer said the children were able to get into a second bus, also from the Joseph Muccio Transportation, of St. Marys, “to enjoy the field trip.”Police said they are investigating why the lug bolts on one wheel came loose and that wheel and the one behind it came off.State police said the stricken bus was following another Muccio bus. The lead bus stopped and the children were able to transfer onto that bus for the rest of the trip.The investigating trooper, Trooper J. Pomaybo, couldn’t say whether the bus company has experienced similar problems.Several calls to the bus company for comment were not returned.Asked about a published report that the lug nuts may have been intentionally loosened, Pomaybo said he “can’t verify that information.”He said he is checking with the Ridgway state police detachment as part of his investigation.