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  1. #1
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    Aug 2007

    Default 4 students dead in bus crash

    I can't even imagine something like this happening in my response area

    there are some pictures of the incident at the web site


    Four students headed home from school were killed when a school bus and at least two other vehicles crashed Tuesday afternoon on a rural highway in southwestern Minnesota.

    About 12 other people, many of them children, were taken to hospitals in Marshall and Granite Falls.

    Motorists coming across the chaotic scene helped the bus driver usher screaming children, some of them injured, through the escape hatch in the top of the bus, which lay on its side, before emergency vehicles arrived. Others took children to the hospital.

    The crash happened on Hwy. 23 a mile south of Cottonwood, near Lyon County Road 24, about 3:30 p.m. The bus was carrying 28 students from Lakeview School, a K-12 school in Cottonwood, said Deann Holland of Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center.

    The cause of the crash was unclear late Tuesday. Skies were partly clear and snow was not falling or blowing in the area at the time, according to weather watchers.

    The first person on the scene was Karen Mahlum, a 53-year-old Sacred Heart, Minn., resident who was driving toward Granite Falls when she saw a cloud over Hwy. 23 ahead of her.

    "It looked like a tornado with dust and debris in the air," she said. "There was metal flying all over the place."

    As the cloud cleared, Mahlum saw the yellow bus lying on its side. She called 911 and ran to the bus.

    There, the driver cried out to her, "Help me! Help me! I have to get these kids out."

    He appeared badly shaken by the accident but was clearheaded about getting the kids out of the bus, Mahlum said.

    "Some of these kids were so little," she said. "And there were just so many. ... They were screaming and crying. Some were bleeding."

    The driver handed children to Mahlum through the emergency hatch, calling out to the children to get in the ditch and away from the bus.

    Terrified children were calling out for brothers and sisters who were still on the bus, she said.

    Some weren't wearing coats or shoes. Shoes and bookbags were strewn all over.

    Other cars stopped at the scene, and more people ran up to help. Drivers put kids in their cars to get them out of the cold, Mahlum said.

    Then emergency vehicles began to arrive -- rescue squads and ambulances from nearly every nearby community, and vehicles from nearby fire departments, which had been asked to bring as much extrication equipment as they could.

    "Everyone worked frantically to get the kids off that bus," Mahlum said.

    The driver told her there were kids in the back of the bus who were badly injured. She could see them. "It looked liked they were unconscious," she said.

    Mahlum said that the bus had landed on the hood of a pickup truck and that the truck's airbag had deployed. The woman driving the truck appeared to be trapped, she said. Another vehicle appeared to have hit the rear of the bus, Mahlum said.

    Students who weren't seriously injured were brought back to the school, where emergency medical workers examined them and parents could take them home, said Greg Isaackson, the city of Cottonwood's clerk administrator. The school enrolls 588 students from the Cottonwood and Wood Lake area.

    Shock and sorrow

    As the sun set on the cold landscape and the news of the crash spread, sorrow was deep, Isaackson said. The father of one child who died is a firefighter, he said.

    "It's a close-knit group and it's going to hit them hard," he said.

    Cottonwood is a town of about 1,150 and Wood Lake's population is about 450.

    Isaackson said the weather conditions were sunny, windy and cold. The roads he had traveled were clear, he said.

    Late Tuesday, the lights of recovery vehicles and police cars illuminated the scene around the crash, where the bus still lay on its side. Police had the area blocked off.

    "This is a sad night for Minnesota," Gov. Tim Pawlenty said in a statement released Tuesday evening. "It is especially heartbreaking when young lives are lost. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were killed or injured in this tragic accident."

  2. #2
    Forum Member RspctFrmCalgary's Avatar
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    May 2002
    Now in Victoria, BC. I'm from beautiful Jasper Alberta in the heart of the Can. Rockies - will always be an Albertan at heart!


    What a heart-wrenching tragedy.
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Honorary Flatlander


  3. #3
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    Dec 1998
    Black Hawk VFD, South Dakota


    Here is a link to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader with an update.

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Mar 2002
    Loco madidus effercio in rutilus effercio.


    The report in the local news here was not as detailed. No matter that it was sketchy on details the story is very sad.

    Prayers and heartfelt condolences to the families involved. And for the responding crews.

  5. #5
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    May 2000
    SW MO


    I don't want to take away from the tragedy this is, my heart and prayers go out to these people. That being said, there's two things that come to my mind in regards to school bus incidents.

    First, why is it no one is putting seat belts on these things? In Missouri, it's illegal for me to drive my car without a seatbelt on everyone inside. They've actually gone so far as to increase the requirements for children in car/booster seats (good thing in my opinion). However, my kids can board a bus twice a day, five days a week without any type of protection.

    Second, as anyone worked with their school in regards to plans should a collission occur involving a school bus? I had an incident at my career department one day where a bus was struck from behind by a 3/4 ton pickup. The school decided to unload all the students from the bus and take the inside. Amongst the students we transported at least 6 for neck and back pain. Perhaps I shouldn't have, but I jumped all over the principal for endangering the kids by doing so, and made sure he knew that walking a couple hundred yards could have paralized one of them if they had significant enough injuries.

    This concerns me as I saw in the story how the bus driver and bystanders took it upon themselves to get the kids out of the bus. I know none of them meant any harm to any of the kids and thought they were doing right; but why aren't bus drivers trained or at least informed of the dangers of spinal injuries, especially since the kids have an increased risk due to lack of seatbelts? I'd hate to see a kid paralized because someone felt they had to get them off the bus for whatever reason.

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Mar 2002
    Loco madidus effercio in rutilus effercio.


    22 brings a good point regarding seat belts. I've seen/read bits here and there in various news papers about seatbelts in school buses. Nothing ever seems to ever come out of the suggestion. There has been some talk of adding them to tour and transit buses too. But again......????
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

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    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

  7. #7
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    Mar 2002


    In resonse to the seat belet question, this is a portion from The National Coalition of School Bus Safety website.

    Here is the link if you wish to read the whole story.

    NHTSA also argues that the installation of seat belts would cause a 17% loss of seating capacity resulting in substantial additional expenses to school districts. They allege that this is because three restraints cannot be fitted to a 39” seat. As those familiar with school transportation are fully aware, except for children in the earliest grades, no 39” seat can accommodate three students. For NHTSA to assume that all school buses are operating at full capacity with 3 to a seat does not represent reality in school transportation.

    Conclusion: Once again NHTSA has failed miserably in addressing the problem of “compromised compartmentalization” in school bus side impact and rollover accidents. As a direct result, children will continue to be killed and injured in school bus accidents. Since NHTSA will not act, the responsibility to correct this well documented inadequacy now resides with the Congress.

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