Schoolbus Driver Charged With Careless Driving in Accident That Injured 12
It’s time for an update on that school bus accident I wrote about a few days ago, the one that has resulted in 12 injuries. At about 9:30 p.m. last Tuesday, on U.S. Highway 24 near Ellicott Highway, a school bus full of 7th- and 8th-grade basketball players and their coaching staff allegedly crashed on black ice and rolled into a ditch.
Police said that the driver, Les Dawson of Simla, was going about 30 mph, well under the speed limit, at the time of the crash. It is reported that he was slowing down for a vehicle in front of him when he lost control of the school bus, which ended up crashing into a ditch on the side of the road. While the majority of the injuries sustained consisted of bumps and bruises, 12 people did go to the hospital immediately afterward. The Colorado State Patrol has charged Dawson with careless driving resulting in bodily injury.
People in Calhan, CO, have repeatedly noted the foul weather conditions the night of the crash and seem to hold no malice towards the man at the wheel of the bus. Chris Ornelas, a reporter for Fox 21, noted their reactions in his followup on the accident:
Almost everyone in this small town knew someone on the bus, but they don’t blame the driver 65 year Les Dawson from Simla.
‘We’re a small town nobody is mad at the bus driver,’ Hildenbrend said.
And neither is the Calhan school district.
‘Every indication is that it was an accident and there will be no disciplinary action from the district,’ said Calhan school district superintendent Linda Miller.
KJCT 8 provides a statement from one of the parents that might shine some light on the possible contributing factors when the accident occurred:
The mother of one of the injured students said her daughter told her the bus driver was talking on a cell phone while driving to the game, and ran up a curb as a result.
‘I’m concerned about that,’ said the mother, who asked to remain anonymous. ‘If he was doing that on the way to the game, he could have been doing it on the way back. My daughter has complained before about his driving habits. I’m going to talk with the school about it.’
The Calhan School District weighed in with a statement last Wednesday, saying:
‘[It’s] extremely prudent when making decisions regarding the transportation of our students. Safety is always our number one priority. Often times, eastern Colorado experiences adverse weather conditions,’ the release said. ‘Bus drivers are highly trained and go through ongoing and rigorous trainings related to winter driving situations and student safety.’
‘The school buses are built to withstand accidents and keep students as safe as possible. We are most grateful that any injuries sustained appear not to be serious or life threatening. Furthermore, the well trained staff on the bus handled the emergency with utmost skill and compassion. We will have no other comments until additional information is available.’
Despite what was reported earlier, I have yet to run across any new mentions of black ice being involved in the crash, although it is possible that it simply comes under the heading of weather-related hazards.