By Ben Fractenberg and Nicole Bode
EAST HARLEM — Eight pre-kindergarten students from the Lighthouse International school were taken to the hospital Wednesday after their school bus was hit by a passing car, education officials said.
The students, who attend Lighthouse's Child Development Center Pre-K program that integrates blind and visually impaired children with those who aren't, were inside the bus on Fifth Avenue near 101st Street when they were hit on the side around 8:45 a.m., school officials said. The program includes students between the ages of 2 - 5 years old.
A spokeswoman for Lighthouse said the students were taken to the hospital as a precaution and were being picked up by their parents and taken home by Wednesday afternoon. They expected the students to be back in school tomorrow, the spokesperson said.
"We are very glad that all of the children are safe, and appreciate all the caring support. We will actively work with the Department of Education, which contracts the bus service, to investigate appropriately and insure that all possible safety measures are in place," said Mark G. Ackermann, president and CEO of Lighthouse International.
The students — and three adults on the bus — were taken to Mt. Sinai Medical Center in stable condition, fire officials said. The hospital is located directly across from the crash scene. It was not immediately clear how many of the students on the bus were visually impaired.
In addition, one person at the scene who was not on the bus refused medical assistance, FDNY press said.
Lighthouse International, a nonprofit advocacy and education organization for the visually impaired, is located at 59th Street between Fifth and Lexington avenues.
Aisha Camacho, 29, whose 5-year-old daughter was on the bus, said that when she got the call from the school Wednesday morning, "They had my heart in my throat."
Camacho said the school officials told her the bus was pulled over to the curb on the Central Park side of Fifth Avenue to pick up a student when another vehicle blew past it, breaking off the driver's side window, before fleeing.
The NYPD did not immediately have information on the crash.