School bus slides into ditch

Posted: Friday, March 12, 2010

A Kenai Peninsula Borough School District bus slid and tipped into a ditch on Island Lake Road near Bell Avenue in Nikiski Wednesday afternoon while taking students home from Nikiski North Star Elementary School. There were no major injuries.

Photo Courtesy Of Dave Laforest
Photo Courtesy Of Dave Laforest
Nikiski firemen stabilize the school bus to rescue students after the bus slid into a ditch on Island Lake Road Wednesday.

According to a statement from the Nikiski Fire Department, there were 27 students on the bus, three of whom were taken to Central Peninsula Hospital complaining of minor head and neck pain. All were evaluated and later released.

Dave Jones, school district assistant superintendent, said that it was a precautionary measure to take the children to the hospital.

He said that accident was reportedly caused when the bus driver got too close to the side of the road and the right tires were "sucked into the ditch."

The fire department responded with ambulances, other rescue vehicles and 19 personnel. Due to the angle of the bus in the ditch, it needed to be stabilized with straps.

Trent Burnett, assistant fire chief in Nikiski, said it took about 20 minutes to stabilize the bus and get all the children safely off.

Jones said that a bus accident like this is pretty rare. First Student, the bus contracting company, has a good driver training program and safety protocol, he said.

"We've talked with them and they only run routes when it's safe to run routes," Jones said.

When weather is poor the district oftentimes delays the start of school until conditions clear.

The district has determined that despite the accident, all school bus routes are currently secure.

"We've looked at the roads and we feel that the buses are safe to be running now," he said.

Nikiski resident Cortney Moore said she was driving down Island Lake Road shortly after the accident.

"Because of the embankment the bus had quite a tilt," she said, but "everything looked good and secure."

Another school bus arrived shortly after the rescue to take the students home, Moore said.

"The road was really slick," she said, adding that the sun made the road especially icy. "The sand truck didn't get there early enough."

Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at brielle.schaeffer@peninsulaclarion.com.



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