More than 50 school children were injured in three school bus crashes throughout the U.S. in the last two days.
On Monday, March 12, a five-year-old girl and a 60-year-old school bus driver were killed when an Indiana school bus crashed into a railroad bridge. The crash occurred in Indianapolis just before sunrise. Authorities say the school bus, carrying 50 students to Indianapolis Lighthouse Charter School, slammed into a concrete pillar in the middle of the road. Many students were injured, including two who were rushed to nearby hospitals in critical condition. The impact of the crash tore apart the front end of the bus, which started smoking after hitting the bridge. Fire crews spent nearly an hour extricating a few students who were trapped in the wreckage.
The bus was owned by Miller Transportation, who according to federal transportation records has had another fatal crash in the last two years. The company also operates tour and charter buses, so it is unclear whether their previous fatal crash involved a school bus. Authorities are currently awaiting the results of an autopsy on the bus driver involved in the crash.
As the investigation into the Indianapolis school bus crash continues, another investigation is currently underway in a Washington school bus crash that also occurred Monday. Thirty-nine students were injured after a school bus driver veered off Highway 281 and overturned near Quincy, Washington. Three students were taken to nearby hospitals in serious condition, though none of the injuries appear to be life-threatening. At this time, local authorities are uncertain what caused the school bus driver to lose control of the vehicle. The school bus wreckage on the side of the highway was so severe, it seems very fortunate that the Quincy accident did not result in more serious injuries or fatalities.
On Tuesday, 11 students were injured after a school bus driver lost control of the vehicle, slid off the highway and overturned. The crash occurred near the town of Belgrade in eastern Missouri. The students, between the ages of five and eighteen, were traveling on a Valley R-6 School District bus when the bus veered off the Highway C, some 60 miles southwest of St. Louis. Three students had to be airlifted to St. Louis Children's Hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening. Two others were transported to another hospital but their conditions are currently unknown.
These three bus accidents are disconcerting to say the least. When it comes to the safety of our children, we need to be assured that school buses and the people that are hired to drive them meet the highest safety standards. While it is uncertain whether safety belts on these buses could have saved lives or prevented injuries, what is certain is that more needs to be done to protect the safety and wellbeing of America's school children when they are on their way to and from school.