Friday, January 24, 2020
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School bus fire in Md., accident in IL

Not that many days into the 2016-17 school year, a school bus caught fire Monday afternoon in College Park, Maryland, and 20 children from Glen Arden Woods Elementary School were safely evacuated, the Washington Post reports.

The cause of the fire was not immediately reported. However, the Post said no one was injured in the fire, citing Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.

The bus caught fire in the 9600 block of 51st Avenue, according to multiple news sources, and firefighters were able to extinguish the fire.

Reneita Smith, the bus driver, took each student off the burning bus. Her actions have been hailed as heroic, according to a Facebook post. Fazlul Kabir wrote:

A big THANK YOU to our school bus driver Reneita Smith who just saved 20 elementary school kids from a bus fire that completely destroyed the bus. Not only Reneita took each one of the 20 kids from the bus one by one, but also went into the empty bus again to check if everyone was out, while it was still burning. “I am a mom of two kids. It’s my job to save them,” she told me. … Thankfully, all the school kids went home safe.

In an unrelated incident—this one occurring at the end of the school year—several students were pulled off a burning bus in Chicago in June.

Old data from the National Fire Protection Association says that, “on average, six bus or school bus fires were reported every day,” but this also includes fires on motor coaches and other buses. Plus, the statistic comes from an analysis prepared for the National Transportation Safety Board’s public hearing on motor coach fires on August 8–9, 2006.

Several students injured in school bus crash in Illinois

A school bus carrying 32 students in Belvidere District 100 near Rockford, Illinois, was involved in an accident near the intersection of Orth and Beloit roads, and a dozen people, including 10 schoolchildren, were taken to local hospitals in the afternoon of September 7.

The North Boone Fire District and the Boone County Sheriff’s Office responded, as did more than a dozen ambulances from multiple jurisdictions, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The bus was traveling northbound and the car westbound at the intersection when the car struck the bus, which continued north for a ways and tipped over on its side. Sheriff’s officials said in a news release that the car had failed to yield to the school bus:

Preliminary investigation shows that a First Student School Bus carrying approximately 32 Belvidere District 100 students was traveling north on Beloit Road. A passenger vehicle traveling west on Orth Road failed to yield, striking the bus. The bus continued north, tipping on its side.

Boone County District #2 Fire and twelve ambulances from Boone County, McHenry County, DeKalb County, Winnebago County, and Rock County (Wisconsin) responded to the scene. The drivers of both vehicles and ten students were transported to four area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries. Most students were treated at the scene and released to their parents.

A quick response and assistance by first responders, school personnel, bus personnel, residents, and parents are credited for making the incident manageable. The accident is still under investigation by the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.

The names of the drivers are not being released at this time.

None of the injuries were said to be life-threatening, although one girl was pinned underneath the bus until firefighters successfully extricated her.

Nationwide, school buses are still a relatively safe way to travel. About 17,000 children are injured on or around school buses each year, but fatalities are rare. Only 61 school bus passengers die each year, on average, based on data from 2005 through 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. About 120 minor pedestrians died over the entire 10-year period in school bus-involved accidents, the administration reported. This number includes accidents in which drivers disobeyed an extended stop sign on a school bus.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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