‘Second-chance’ students in National Guard program injured in wreck with tractor trailers

Five youths from the S.C. National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program were injured in a three-way crash between their bus, a semi-truck and a logging truck on Monday.

The young people were participating in the guard’s Jobs ChalleNGe program that focuses on job training for cadets who graduate from the SC Youth ChalleNGe Academy, according to a guard spokeswoman. The boot camp-like academy “serves South Carolina’s youth looking for a second chance to succeed,” according to its website.

The program currently partners with Midlands Technical College to provide hands-on job skills training and academic instruction through college trade courses, Capt. Jessica Donnelly of the National Guard said.

The cadets and their bus driver all suffered non-life threatening injuries, Donnelly said, adding that all family members for the cadets were contacted on the day of the accident.

The two cadets that remained hospitalized Tuesday were expected to be released Wednesday, according to Columbia police spokeswoman Jennifer Timmons.

Columbia police on Monday said the three vehicles collided around 5 p.m. The crash closed McCords Ferry Road between Screaming Eagle Road and Leesburg Road overnight.

The crash closed McCords Ferry Road for several hours while police investigated the cause.

Police said a semi pulling a trailer full of paper approached a disabled vehicle on the side of the road. That semi crossed the center line, in a no passing zone, to avoid the disabled vehicle.

The bus was traveling in the opposite lane and slowed down to let that semi pass. Officers said the bus was then rear-ended by a semi carrying logs.

That collision caused the bus to flip and veer off the road. It took several hours to clean up the wreckage.

Police are reviewing the case to determine if any charges will be filed.

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Jeff Wilkinson has worked for The State for both too long and not long enough. He’s covered politics, city government, history, business, the military, marijuana and the Iraq War. Jeff knows the weird, wonderful and untold secrets of South Carolina. Buy him a shot and he’ll tell you all about them.