Blown stop sign results in school bus crash that injures four Dowagiac students, two adults

Published 11:37 am Wednesday, August 31, 2022

WAYNE TOWNSHIP — A blown stop sign ended in a two-vehicle Wayne Township crash involving a Dowagiac Union Schools bus that injured four secondary students and two adults, according to the Cass County Sheriff’s Office.

According to Sheriff Richard J. Behnke, deputies responded to the crash at approximately 6:43 a.m Wednesday at the intersection of Atwood Road and Dewey Lake Street in Wayne Township.

A Dowagiac school bus driver – 40-year-old Dowagiac resident Benjamin Lee Hoopes – was traveling southbound on Atwood Road with four Dowagiac students and another bus driver – 45-year-old Dowagiac resident Roy Payne. 

Hoopes was traveling south on Atwood Road and disregarded the stop sign at the intersection of Dewey Lake Street and Atwood Road.  26-year-old Dowagiac resident Christopher Weber was traveling west bound on Dewey Lake Street when his vehicle struck the school bus traveling southbound.  Weber’s vehicle ran off the roadway into a ditch and the bus ended up on its side in the roadway.  

All students but one were turned over to their parents at the scene. Payne and the fourth student were transported to Borgess Lee Hospital in Dowagiac for their injuries.  

“The fourth student’s parents could not be reached for some time, so I had the student transported to the hospital to be safe,” said Dowagiac Superintendent Jonathan Whan in a newsletter distributed electronically to parents and guardians. “The parents were contacted by the time the student was in transit to the hospital.”

Assisting at the accident scene were the  Wayne Township Fire Department fire, Dowagiac Police and Fire Department, Tribal Police, Pride Care Ambulance Service and Van Buren ambulance service.  Seat belts were worn and alcohol or drugs were not a factor.  

“We are very appreciative to the community members who stopped to help and to the emergency responders who arrived to provide needed services to all involved,” Whan said. “We are all very happy that at this time all students, staff and the driver of the other vehicle are doing okay.”

This accident remains under investigation at this time.