MEIGS COUNTY, Tenn. — UPDATE (Tuesday evening, 11 p.m.)
Newschannel9's shared the latest from the tragic bus crash.
THP later tweet that Highway 58 is back open more than 7 hours after the crash.
UPDATE (Tuesday evening, 8:30 p.m.):
The Tennessee Highway Patrol shared the tragic news that a Meigs County school bus driver and a young student were killed in Tuesday afternoon's crash.
Seven other children were taken to Erlanger in Chattanooga, THP Lieutenant Bill Miller said during a news conference Tuesday night. Of those, five were airlifted by LifeForce helicopter, with at least one of them in critical condition. (Editor's note: A previous version of this story stated that a total of five children were sent to the hospital. This has since been corrected.)
The student killed was a 7-year-old girl, but officials have not yet released her name or that of the woman driving the bus.
According to Lt. Miller, a service electric truck was heading north on Highway 58 when the driver lost control and overcorrected, reentering the highway and skidding into the oncoming bus lane.
A total of 22 students were on Bus #12-1 when the crash happened. Lt. Miller said the driver of the utility vehicle received minor injuries.
Meigs County Sheriff Jackie Melton said during the conference that in his time in law enforcement, this was an incident that "really touched home."
"Never in your wildest dreams do you think when you go out the door that you'll deal with something like this," said Meigs County School Superintendent Clint Baker, "It's a tragedy - no other way to describe it."
Superintendent Baker says the state's Department of Mental Health and Meigs County crisis team will be available to help the district's hurting students, teachers, and school bus drivers on Wednesday.
Lt. Miller says traffic fatalities are on the rise in a year where they shouldn't be.
"It's ripped scars off of memories of what families have gone through in the past," said Miller.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee offered his condolences Tuesday night, and promised support for the Meigs County community in the coming days.
"We are praying for all those involved and their families. May God watch over these innocent children," said U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn.
The THP says a preliminary report of the crash will be released later Tuesday night.
This is a developing story and will be updated as we learn more.
UPDATE (Tuesday evening, 8 p.m.):
The Tennessee Highway Patrol says they will hold a news conference at 8:30 p.m. ET to provide information on the deadly crash involving a utility vehicle and a Meigs County school bus with children on board.
The conference is set to take place at Meigs South Elementary School. The area has limited cell reception. We are working with our crew in the field to get the latest information to you as we are able.
This is a developing story and will be updated as we learn more.
Tennessee Highway Patrol says two people were killed in a crash involving a utility service vehicle and a Meigs County School bus with children on board.
Lieutenant Bill Miller confirmed the news to us late Tuesday afternoon during our evening newscast. Officials have not yet released the ages or names of those involved.
Meigs County Sheriff Jackie Melton told us around 4 p.m. that he was rushing to the scene. It happened at 7751 State Highway 58, north of the intersection with Lamontville Road.
A person who was on the scene but asked not to be identified tells us the crash involved a utility truck and the school bus. It’s not clear how many injuries there are at this time, but our source confirms there are multiple injuries.
According to a 5:44pm statement from the Meigs County Board of Education, Meigs County Bus #12-1 was on its afternoon route with children on board when the crash happened.
"At present all families have been notified and children have returned home with a family member or were taken to area hospitals for treatment" the statement reads.
The school system said students on the bus were sent to Meigs South Elementary School, and parents could go there to pick them up.
It is not clear how many people were on the bus, or how many were taken to the hospital.
NewsChannel 9's crews reported from Meigs County as well as outside Erlanger in Chattanooga as the news developed.PM TEAM COVERAGE pt1: Sydney Edwards and Sabrina Maggiore reported from Meigs County, and Isaiah Kim-Martinez reported from outside Erlanger in downtown Chattanooga.
Blood Assurance says its area locations will be staying open until 10 p.m. tonight to get blood donations for those injured in the bus accident. Appointments are required - you can make one by calling 800-962-0628, text BAGIVE to 999777, or by visiting their website here.
The locations include Hixson, downtown Chattanooga, Gunbarrel Road, and Cleveland.
Many people have rushed to donate blood in the wake of the deadly crash.
In downtown Chattanooga, Isaiah Kim-Martinez saw dozens in the waiting room.
And at the Cleveland location, a viewer sent us pictures of lines of community members wrapping around the building.
Local and state officials are responding to the news of the serious crash.
Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn offered her condolences in a statement, and said that they are working to support the Meigs County School District and community.
“I and the entire staff at the Tennessee Department of Education are deeply saddened to hear about the fatal bus crash in Meigs County earlier this afternoon. No words can express our sympathies for those lives that were lost," said Schwinn, "We send our deepest condolences to the students, families, school staff and leaders, district staff and the entire Meigs County community affected by this tragic accident and wish healing for all those injured. The department has communicated with district leaders and staff in Meigs County and surrounding areas and is mobilizing to support this community in safety response and services.”
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke released a statement on Twitter, saying, "I'm deeply saddened to hear the news coming out of Meigs County this evening about a serious school bus crash. My thoughts are with these children and their families. Until we have more information, we will hope for the best and keep them in our prayers."
The Bradley County Sheriff's Office asked the community to join them in "prayerfully supporting those affected by this accident."
This is a developing story and will be updated.
Since 2014, a total of 9,455 tickets have been issued to drivers in New Jersey for passing a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing as students are getting on or off.
Police acknowledge the actual number of violations is probably much higher because officers are not watching every school bus in the Garden State.
Now that kids are back in class, a new effort is moving forward to pass legislation that would allow video cameras to be mounted on the sides of school buses to ensure all drivers that pass a stopped school bus are ticketed.
A measure sponsored by Assemblyman Rob Karabinchak, D-Middlesex, would authorize the use of a school bus monitoring system to identify drivers who do not stop for school buses, and send them a ticket in the mail.
He said there is no excuse for not stopping for a school bus with flashing lights.
“This is something I feel extremely strong about," he said. "Our students safety is paramount.”
He pointed out younger children and even older ones may not look around them to see if there is any traffic, so “our drivers should have a higher priority that when you’re near a bus."
The measure calls for stiff fines: $250 for a first offense and up to $500 and community service for subsequent violations.
Karabinchak said tough penalties for drivers are needed because “they’re not paying attention."
"There’s so many distractions today with drivers, whether they’re on their phone, whether there’s somebody else in the car," he said.
“This should be something that is taught to young adults that are just getting their licenses, people that are coming from other places that are getting their licenses.”
Under the proposed legislation, if a ticket is issued for passing a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing, there would be a monetary fine but no points added to the driver’s record.
If a police officer witnesses a driver passing a school bus, the penalty is a $100 fine, possible community service and even jail time for no longer than 15 days, and five points added to the driver’s record.
Legislation was introduced to allow video monitoring on the sides of school buses a few years ago, but those efforts got bogged down because of concerns about cost.
However, the cost of video monitoring continues to drop and Karabinchak is confident the Legislature will approve the measure in the coming session.
Read More: NJ school buses could soon have cameras to help ticket cars | https://wobm.com/nj-school-buses-could-soon-have-cameras-to-help-ticket-cars/?fbclid=IwAR18XZstcFH_E1JG4XdQ2m3enSZCtM7BS0Sb8MUtA9WhJoRaa2sW8XT1rGE&utm_source=tsmclip&utm_medium=referral
BENTON COUNTY, Miss. (WMC) - A school bus driver is dead and at least eight children were injured in a crash in Benton County, Mississippi Tuesday morning.
The crash happened before 8 a.m. near Highway 72 and Whippoorwill Road. According to the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the driver, William “Chester” Cole, died at the scene.
Eight children were on board and all of them suffered varying injuries. According to Dr. Regan Williams, Trauma Medical Director at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, says their doctors treated all eight children. Four were brought in by air ambulance, two by ground ambulance and two more by private vehicle.
Williams says the injuries to the four children who were airlifted are considered serious but not critical. They are being admitted to the hospital. The other four children suffered minor injuries and will likely go home Tuesday.
David Loyd spoke with WMC Action News 5 at Le Bonheur. He says his stepdaughter, 13-year-old Halie Williams, was one of the children injured in the crash. He says she suffered a broken jaw, broken leg and broken ankle. Still, Loyd says he’s grateful her injuries weren’t any worse.
“I’m just going to give her great big old hug and tell her that I’m glad she’s alright,” said Loyd.
It’s unclear what caused the crash, but the bus rolled over on the side of the road. Benton County Schools Superintendent Steve Bostick says he believes the driver had some kind of medical emergency but authorities have not commented on that.
According to the Benton County Coroner Larry Hobson, Cole reportedly grabbed his chest and slumped over in the seat before the crash. Hobson says it’s likely Cole experienced a cardiac event. It’s not clear though if he died before or as a result of the crash.
Bostick says Cole worked for the district for five years, calling him trusted and dependable.
No other vehicles were involved in the crash.
PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Pasco County, Florida mother wants someone held accountable after she says her child recently fell asleep on a school bus and woke up in a bus garage.
Alexis Hughes contacted WFLA, saying that her 5-year-old daughter Kensley was on her way from Cox Elementary to Pasco Elementary for an after school program on August 27. All of her classmates got off the bus, but Kensley was fast asleep inside.
A spokeswoman for Pasco County Schools says the child was discovered after the bus went to its final destination, the bus garage.
Although they admit procedures were not followed at Pasco Elementary, the spokeswoman insists the child was never left alone and that her safety was never in jeopardy.
WFLA is digging into what went wrong and getting results. While there were two adults on the bus that day, only one was facing consequences until we started asking questions.
“There is no room for error, absolutely zero, when it comes to children,” said Hughes.
Hughes says her daughter is ordinarily rambunctious but always falls asleep in moving vehicles.
“From point A to point B at some time, she had fallen asleep,” said Hughes.
“I don’t know how long and I don’t know when.”
The spokeswoman claimed the mistake was made at Pasco Elementary and that the driver and the aid didn’t realize Kensely missed her stop.
We’re told a complete inspection was conducted at the bus garage approximately a mile away from the school. Kensley was discovered and returned to the after school program.
“It angers me and it upsets me,” said Hughes.
Hughes was told the bus assistant resigned but there was no update on the driver. She wanted full accountability, so she called 8 On Your Side Investigates.
We called the district with questions.
“What if any repercussions will the bus driver face?” asked investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi. The spokeswoman said, the driver was not a regular and the aide was responsible for ensuring the kids got off the bus that day.
“That’s crazy,” said Hughes.
“Don’t tell me you can’t take on two tasks at once, driving a kid safely in a bus and also being aware that they’re off the bus,” she said.
WFLA asked for the official school bus handbook.
On page 37, the district lists its No Child on Board (Red Tag) Procedure. It states it’s a critical duty to ensure all kids are off the bus. It is the responsibility of both the driver and the assistant.
We contacted the district again with this information. The spokeswoman said the driver’s discipline had not been completed but it’s in process.
Here’s the full text of No Child on Board (Red Tag) Procedure:
One of the most critical aspects of Driver and Transportation Assistant duties is to ensure that all students have departed the bus. After every run and upon returning to the compound, the Driver and the Transportation Assistant must conduct a complete inspection to verify that there is no child left on board. A complete inspection will include looking in and under the seats or anywhere that a child might hide or have fallen asleep. This is done by physically walking the length of the bus and checking. This should be done after each group of students has been dropped off. Never leave the bus unattended unless you are positive there is no student on board. It is the responsibility of both the Driver and the Transportation Assistant to ensure that no child is ever left unattended on a bus.”
Late Friday, the spokeswoman told 8 On Your Side this clause only applies at the end of a shift when the driver and the assistant are back at the bus garage. Right now, WFLA is still waiting for clarification about the exact procedure required at the stops prior to the bus garage.
Meantime, Hughes has taken her daughter off the shuttle bus, and Kensley is at a new school.
There is a video of the incident, but a spokeswoman says it’s not available for release at this time due to potential litigation.