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Driver Arrested in Crash of Bus Carrying American Students

July 21, 1990

OXFORD, England (AP) _ The driver of a bus that overturned, killing two American teen-agers studying at Oxford University, has been arrested on reckless driving charges, police said.

All of the 59 others on board, most of them also American students, were injured in the accident Thursday.

John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford reported Friday that 16 people were still hospitalized. One was in intensive care.

The driver of the double-decker bus, Gan Sharma, 40, was taken into custody Thursday night and charged with causing death by reckless driving, police said. They said alcohol was not a factor in the accident.

Sharma was slightly injured. He was released on bail Friday pending further investigation, said Chief Inspector Laurie Fray of the Thames Valley police.

The bus was carrying gifted U.S. students who were taking a four-week summer school course at Oxford University’s Magdalen College. The vehicle toppled as it turned off a highway near Wheatley, six miles east of Oxford, police said.

They identified the dead as students Lawrence Levine, 16, of Chappaqua, N.Y., and Autumn Dubose, 18, of Lilburn, Ga.

Fray said police will question Marilyn Whiteman, who said Thursday the bus had passed her traveling 80 to 85 mph just before the crash. The British highway speed limit is 70 mph.

She said it suddenly turned left at the Wheatley turnoff without signaling and went out of control.

At Radcliffe Hospital, U.S. Ambassador Henry Catto spoke to the injured and to parents who flew in from the United States.

Brad Becker, 16, of Piedmont, Calif., told the ambassador there was panic on the bus when it went out of control.

″I said, ‘Oh my God 3/8’ and people started screaming. The bus just made it onto the grass and fell over. If it had fallen into the freeway, we’d all have plummeted into the path of cars. We’d have been killed - all of us,″ he said.

Becker suffered a broken vertebra.

Diedre Walsh, a spokeswoman for the Oxford Advanced Studies Program in New York, said talks were under way at Magdalen College to decide whether the course should continue. The Advanced Studies Program in New York organized the trip.

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