Photographs of the site, published by WCNC.com, show the front of Charlotte-Mecklenburg school bus sheered off by a tree, with the front right wheel smashed sideways against the trunk.
Authorities say the crash happened when the driver of a Cadillac Escalade approached the Barrington Drive intersection and failed to stop at the red traffic light. The bus was traveling through the intersection at the same time, and the Escalade struck the left front side of the bus. The bus then careened off the right side of the road, striking two trees and coming to a rest. Meanwhile, the Escalade caught fire.
Nearby, day care students being dropped off at a nearby center witnessed the horrific collision. As one witnessed described it, babies were crying, the bus driver was crying and bystanders were in a panic.
A day care employee grabbed a fire extinguisher and began blasting the Escalade, while other witnesses rushed to the aid of the children in the bus. One witness even took charge and reviewed the bus manifest to make sure all students were accounted for after they were taken off the bus. They also called police and were the ones to notify the parents.
Some students were bleeding, bruised and very shaken. Eight were taken to the hospital, as was the bus driver and the driver of the Escalade. However, none of the injuries were believed to be life-threatening.
Officials are still investigating, and no one has yet been cited.
Our Charlotte bus accident attorneys know that while school bus accidents are relatively rare in looking at the total number of traffic crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports there were 1,222 school transportation-related crashes between 2003 and 2012. That’s 0.35 percent of the total number of accidents. Still, they accounted for 135 deaths every single year – far too many when we’re talking about vehicles we trust to get our kids to school safely each day.
What’s more, this was far from a totally isolated incident. Just a couple weeks earlier, two were injured in a school bus crash in west Charlotte. According to wbtv.com, it was an elementary school bus involved in a head-on collision. One person suffered “serious injuries” and another minor injuries. At the time, a grandmother of the one student on the bus at time said schools need to start making seat belts standard in youth buses.
More than 25 million children ride school buses annually. Late last year, NHTSA administrator announced that while the agency’s historical stance on school bus seat belts has been somewhat spotty, he firmly believed seat belt save lives.
“Every child on every school bus should have a three-point seat belt,” he said.
The agency has initiated the rulemaking process, though it’s expected to be long and arduous, with significant push back from school districts and manufacturers of these large vehicles. Some believe it’s not a federal issue, but a decision best left to cities and states.
If your child is involved in a Charlotte bus accident, it’s imperative to seek immediate medical attention – even if the injuries seem relatively minor – and to contact an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
8 students sent to hospital after school bus wreck in east Charlotte, Jan. 7, 2016, WCNC.com
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