Joseph Clabaugh Jr.
Joseph Clabaugh Jr. (SUBMITTED)

When Hanover Police Chief Randy Whitson joined the force in 1980, he said, the man he worked for was everything a police officer should be.

Even today, when Whitson looks at his supervising officers, he sees a collection of people who were trained by Sgt. Joseph A. Clabaugh Jr. before he retired in 1999.

Clabaugh, 66, died Wednesday when the Wolf's Bus Line commuter bus he was driving crashed in Bethesda, Md. There was no official cause of death as of Thursday night.

"He was a great street sergeant," Whitson said Thursday. "He had no desire to be the next lieutenant or the next chief of the department. Joe was a cop, and that's all he ever wanted to be.

It's a loss that leaves a hole in the Hanover police family, Whitson said, and something they'll never recover from.

"You don't get over these things; you just live with it," he said.

Clabaugh retired from the department in 1999 after 32½ years of service, Whitson said. He was a mentor, a "shining example" of what all Hanover officers should aspire to be.

"He told us all respect isn't something that is taken for granted," Whitson said. "Everyone should be respected, good and bad, and he lived his life that way."

And in his retirement, Clabaugh was there with a call after a rough day, always giving a friendly wave as he walked his dogs down the street, Whitson recalled.

Clabaugh left behind a wife, Joyce, and "two fine boys who turned out to be great young men," Whitson said.

"Knowing what our department is going through - the loss of our family member - I can't imagine what they're going through," Whitson said.

Clabaugh wrote on his Facebook page he had been driving buses for the York Springs-based Wolf's both part time and full time since 1985. He called it the "best bus company in the USA - possibly the world."

He was driving a commuter bus full of sightseers on their way back to York Springs from the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., Wednesday when the bus left the road and fell 45 feet off a skyramp of the Capital Beltway, Maryland State Police said.

The passengers included some students and parents from Saint Patrick School in Carlisle.

Of the 12 people taken to hospitals, officials said two had critical, life-threatening injuries and two others were critically hurt but should survive. The rest had minor injuries.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators began their own probe of their crash Thursday but aren't expected to announce a probable cause for the crash for months. Their investigation will look at factors such as the driver's work schedule and medical history, the bus company's record and highway design, including any roadside barriers, signage and pavement markings, Board Member Robert Sumwalt said.

Daily Record/Sunday News reporter Jeff Frantz contributed to this report.

Others

Thursday morning, Maryland State Police released the names of the 11 people injured in a bus crash:

  • Sally Currie, 47, and Emma Currie, 7, of Carlisle

  • Trina Manetta, 38; Donte Manetta, 10; and Dominic Manetta, 11, of Carlisle

  • Vincent Oliverio, 12; Madison Oliverio, 9; and Riley Oliverio, 11, of Carlisle

  • Helen Rockefeller, 74, and Richard Lake, 77, of Endicott, N.Y.

  • Ashok Sonalkar, 71, of Mechanicsburg

    The children and adults on the bus had been on a trip to the National Mall and National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and were returning to Pennsylvania, police said. As the bus approached the sky ramp on the I-270 lane, it went off the roadway, through a guardrail and down a 45-foot embankment through small trees and brush.

    Investigators said they believe the bus rolled once before landing upright.

    Two other drivers were injured by a falling light pole caused by the crash. June Odegard, 55, of Montgomery Village, Md., was injured when the pole hit the front of her car. Parag G. Ghodgaonkar, 37, of Germantown, Md., drove over the same light pole but was not injured.

    Read more

    To read an account of the crash told by Carlisle-area students, click here