Motorcyclist killed in crash with school bus in Newport News

Joe Fisher/WAVY Photo

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A motorcyclist was killed in an accident with a Hines Middle School bus in Newport News Wednesday.

Emergency crews were called to Woods and Harpersville Roads at 3:12 p.m. Officers say the crash happened as the bus tried to make a left hand turn from Harpersville Road onto Woods Road.

Hannah Johnston, a seventh grader at Hines Middle, says it was a chaotic scene.

“The people at the back of the bus, they were like, ‘oh my God’ and screaming,” Johnston said.

Medics pronounced the motorcyclist dead at the scene at 3:21 p.m. Family identified the victim as 61-year-old Gary Estes — an avid motorcycle rider and longtime motorcycle instructor, who preached safety. Police say Estes was wearing the proper safety equipment, but say it appears speed was a contributing factor in the crash.

Estes was the coordinator of the Motorcycle Safety Program at the Thomas Nelson Community College Workforce Development Center for more than 15 years.

The Workforce Development Associate VP Carmen Burrows released a statement on Thursday:

The Thomas Nelson family is saddened to hear about the passing of Gary Estes. Gary was the Motorcycle Safety Program Coordinator here in Workforce Development at Thomas Nelson since 2001. He capably managed more than 100 weekend classes for more than 1,000 students per year.  He was diligent in maintaining all the training motorcycles in safe operating condition and emphasized safety first in the operation of the classes held at the Hampton campus.  His leadership in this program will be greatly missed.”

“He unfortunately passed doing what he loves,” said Michael Wade, a friend of Estes. “Every time I start my bike I’m going to think of him.”

There were 29 students on board Bus 168, along with the driver. None of them reported injuries. However, police say some of the children were distraught.

Students were on scene for a short time before they were taken back to Hines Middle School, where they met up with their families.

Michelle Price with Newport News schools says grief counselors would be at the school Thursday. Parents of the students who were on the bus received a personal phone call. Parents of students who weren’t on board the bus got an automated call.

The driver of the school bus is still employed with Newport News Public Schools, but may not be driving for a few days to recover, Price says.