Dark Chapter In Windsor’s History: Eight Killed In School Bus Crash

Photo courtesy of Cheryl Leithead-Skilton.

December 21, 1966 marks one of the darkest days in Windsor-Essex history: the day a school bus full of children was struck by a tractor-trailer at the corner of Hwy. 3 and Walker Rd.

On that day, 50 years ago, eight children died when the tractor-trailer lost control and the trailer toppled onto the bus.

The crash thrust the tiny farming community of Oldcastle into the global spotlight.

Cheryl Leithead-Skilton lost her 6-year-old sister Laurie Anne that day. In an interview with BlackburnNews.com earlier this year, she remembered the scene vividly as she, her mother and brother-in-law retraced the bus’s route.

“All you could hear were sirens and people yelling,” she recalled.

Along with Laurie-Anne, the community also lost Thomas Jay O’Neil, David Scott McKee, Blaine Robert Mills, Anna Marie Dube, Rhonda May McDonald, Susan Irene Brown and Gary Ross Curtis.

“I remember getting on the bus, going back to school in January and there was a peep. Any of the kids — none of them was talking. There was no noise,” says Leithead-Skilton, who believes many parents told their children not to speak of it, because they didn’t know what to say.

Last September, surviving family members gathered to remember their loss, reminisce about their loved ones, and note how the accident has changed their lives even decades later.