ANAHEIM – The OC Register is reporting that a school-bus returning students home following an after-school activity crashed into an embankment in Anaheim Hills, critically injuring the driver and two students.
The bus, which belongs to the Orange Unified district, is said to have run off the road, up a small hill and then struck a tree and a lamppost. The students on-board were from El Rancho Charter Middle School.
All told 11 students were injured in addition to the bus driver, who suffered the worst injuries of all and had to be cut out of the bus by firefighters.
The single-vehicle incident occurred on Nohl Ranch Road about 4 pm, near the Anaheim Hills Golf Course. The California Highway Patrol is investigating the cause of the crash, taking particular interest into whether the bus made an “unsafe turn”.
Of the injured students, two were taken to to a nearby trauma center while three were hospitalized for less serious injuries. The remaining six were were released to their parents who will facilitate treatment.
New buses are required to have seat belts, but there is not a provision that holds the bus driver or school district accountable for students wearing them. Despite this, one of the students on-board says that usually the bus driver walked the aisle to verify everyone was wearing there seat belt. However he added that today was different, and the bus driver did not carry-out this check as usual.
Crashes like these are often the catalyst required for increased safety regulations. Having a school bus equipped with seat belts but lacking the ability to enforce (or incentivize) their use is an unfortunate variable of this story indeed. One student involved mentioned being thrown from one side of the bus to the other during the crash, something that almost certainly would have been avoided had he been wearing a seat belt. The truth is however that such enforcement is extremely difficult. If the extent of enforcing the rule is to walk the aisles before the bus departs, then all that will be accomplished is inconveniencing the students by making them wait a few minutes before unbuckling their restraints. These are middle-school children after all.
I wish the best for those injured in this accident. Maybe it will serve as a wake-up call to some students who don’t realize the latent fallibility of the adults they’re trusting with their own safety.