Archive for Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bus hit; 2 students sent to hospital

October 18, 2007

Paul Griffith received an unexpected phone call Tuesday morning: A paramedic was on the line to tell Griffith his daughter's school bus had been in an accident and to ask whether Griffith wanted his daughter taken to the hospital.

"I asked to talk to her," Griffith said Wednesday. "She said a car had hit the bus right where she had been sitting."

Griffith said his daughter, Alexis, 12, a seventh-grader at Lansing Middle School, complained about a headache and a stiff neck. Her father told the Leavenworth County Emergency Medical Services paramedic to go ahead and take her to the hospital.

Alexis was one of two LMS students transported by EMS to St. John Hospital after the wreck, which occurred at 7:32 a.m. Tuesday at the intersection of 4-H and De Soto roads.

The bus was carrying 35 Lansing public school students, ranging in age from 5 to 18, and a bus monitor, Diane Brown. Durham School Services employee Christina Gunnels, 32, Leavenworth, was driving.

Officer Brian Duncan of the Lansing Police Department said a 1995 Dodge Neon driven by Gina Walters, 22, Linwood, was stopped in the southbound lane on De Soto and was attempting a left turn onto 4-H Road when the accident occurred.

"She said she looked both ways and noticed a white car across the street from her," Duncan said. "The white car, she said, appeared to be waiting for her to turn. She did. Then, out of corner of her eye, she saw the school bus."

The Neon hit the eastbound 2002 Thomas bus, striking it just in front of the driver's side rear wheel well. Duncan estimated the Neon's speed at no more than 10 mph.

The impact, however, was jarring.

In addition to Alexis, 13-year-old Alanda Kohl of rural Leavenworth also was transported to St. John Hospital, Duncan said.

In all, Duncan said, another eight students - four from Lansing High School and four from LMS - complained of suffering bumps and bruises from the accident.

Paramedics talked individually with all of the students before they were released to board a backup bus, which eventually took them to school, officials said.

Walters was ticketed for failing to yield the right of way.

Griffith said emergency room personnel checked over Alexis and took X-rays before releasing her. She returned to school later Tuesday.

"She had a big test she didn't want to miss," Griffith said, noting doctors said Alexis should be watched for the next week or so.

Kohl's parents could not be reached for comment.

Judy Bettis, transportation manager for Durham School Services, which provides bus service in the Lansing district, said the accident was a first in her nine-year tenure at Durham.

"I don't recall ever having an injury accident," she said.

The wreck caused an estimated $2,000 to $3,000 damage to the bus, but a police inspection after the accident showed no mechanical or operating problems. Bettis said the bus is back in service.

The Neon, meanwhile, was totaled, Duncan said.

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