An Escambia County school bus was involved in a dramatic collision with a pickup truck this morning. The car accident, which occurred around 8 a.m. at the intersection of South Fairfield Drive and U.S. 98, ended with the back end of the bus off the road in a ditch and the pickup truck on fire.
Witnesses say that the pickup’s driver ran a red light and the bus driver worked skillfully to avoid the collision. Unfortunately she could not, and the bus was wobbling on two wheels. At one point, the pickup truck became stuck under the back of the bus.
“The truck snapped out (from under the bus), was spinning out of control and went up in flames,” said one woman who witnessed the bus accident.
The school bus, carrying 47 students, then careened on two wheels into the ditch. Students immediately poured out of the emergency door. Some students and eyewitnesses then grabbed fire extinguishers from the bus and a nearby Circle K in order to douse the flaming pickup truck.
People on the scene snatched the truck driver out of the pickup as soon as the fire was out, and he was transported to Baptist Hospital. It is believed he suffered only minor injuries in thecar wreck.
Eight students were also injured in the bus accident and were sent to Sacred Heart Hospital. Lieutenant Daniel Akerman, spokesperson for Escambia Fire and Rescue, does not believe any of the injuries were serious.
The remaining students were assessed for injury and then loaded onto another school bus to be driven the remaining two miles to school. Concerned parents were instructed to meet their children at the high school.
The Florida Highway Patrol has taken a blood sample from the pickup truck driver and is awaiting results. The cause bus accident is still under investigation. Escambia County Schools will also conduct its own investigation.
However, several eyewitnesses told the Pensacola News Journal that the bus driver acted skillfully and heroically by keeping the bus from flipping over after the collision.
“The bus was wobbling on two wheels,” said one woman who was pumping gas at the Circle K, just yards away from the bus accident. “She was controlling the bus. It could have flipped. It could have gone in the ditch. It could have been worse.”
Source: Pensacola News Journal, “9 injured in school bus wreck,” Kimberly Blair, January 6, 2011