22 children, bus driver, taken to hospitals after school bus crash; none critically injured
Twenty-two children and a school bus driver have been taken to Kansas City-area hospitals with minor injuries after a school bus crashed on Kansas Highway 7 in Bonner Springs this afternoon, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.
Bonner Springs police first responded to the accident about 12:45 p.m. today, when a school bus rolled over on a exit ramp for Kansas Highway 32, said Lt. Rick Schubert, a Bonner Springs Police Department spokesman. The bus was one of two buses full of sixth graders from Pembroke Hill Academy in Kansas City, Mo., one with female students and one with males. The bus involved in the accident carried 36 female students and had rolled over on its side in the accident.
The bus was traveling south on Kansas Highway 7 and accidentally left the road on the exit ramp to Kansas Highway 32 when the passenger-side wheels slipped off of the road, said Trooper Howard Dickinson, a highway patrol spokesman. The bus slid down a steep embankment and then tipped over on the passenger side, throwing the children inside the bus from one side to the other.
"We've got some pretty banged up kids," Dickinson said. Among the 22 injured children, many suffered from minor head injuries, bloody noses, sore ribs, and bumps and scratches. None, including the driver, suffered life-threatening injuries.
Nine of the injured were taken to Kansas University Hospital, while others were taken to Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., and Overland Park Regional Medical Center. The bus was headed to a camp in Linwood when the accident occurred.
It was fortunate that no one was seriously injured, Dickinson said, but the girls on the bus were very emotional after the accident. He credited the quick reactions and thoughtfulness of Bonner Springs residents and first responders who arrived at the scene with cold drinks to help calm the children down.
Jason Sheahan, an employee of Reddi Services in the Bonner Springs Industrial Park, arrived on the scene with a co-worker, Joe Rhoney, before police arrived.
He said Rhoney noticed the accident as they headed westbound on K-32 after grabbing lunch.
"He saw the door of the bus pop open. We parked the car at Wagners, and kids started pouring out of the bus," Sheahan said. "... When I saw the kids' feet hanging out the windows, my first thought was that there would be kids pinned under the bus."
Sheahan said thankfully no children were under the bus. Rhoney climbed into the bus through the back door and was helping students who were caught on the seats inside the bus, while Sheahan helped them exit the bus. He said a few students were hurt.
"A girl had hurt her knee — she had just had surgery on it — and someone was bleeding, we couldn't find who it was," he said. "There was probably several concussions and a lot of head traumas, and there was some kids who had some bloody noses, but most of the kids were OK."
Sheahan and Rhoney then tried to round up the students away from the bus to keep them in a group and calm them down.
"They were all screaming, 'What happened?' and 'I want my mom,'" Sheahan said.
Sheahan and Rhoney stayed on the scene for about 45 minutes helping the students. Sheahan said another passerby who was a nurse also stopped to help check injuries.
Parents of the uninjured students picked up their children at Bonner Springs High School, 100 N. McDanield St., this afternoon.
Reporter Ian Cummings contributed to this story.