A school bus crash in El Sobrante, California, critically injured two people and resulted in another 13 being taken to local hospitals. Included in the injured were a pregnant woman and seven children, though officials say the most serious injuries were to people in the other vehicles involved in the accident. As officials work to determine what caused the school bus crash and who is responsible for the incident, safety advocates continue to push for increased measures to protect children as they travel to and from school on buses.
Pregnant Bus Driver and Seven Children Taken to the Hospital Following California Bus Crash
The bus crash in El Sobrante happened at around 8:11 a.m. on Tuesday, January 9, at San Pablo Dam Road and Lois Lane. As many as four vehicles including the school bus were involved in the crash.
According to California Highway Patrol (CHP), both a Volkswagen Beetle and Chevrolet Silverado were traveling north in the far left lane on San Pablo Dam Road. As they approached Lois Lane, the school bus was traveling south on San Pablo Dam Road in the far left lane next to a Ford F-150. The driver of the Volkswagen braked suddenly, bringing the vehicle almost to a halt, but the Chevrolet Silverado could not stop in time and crashed into the Volkswagen. The Volkswagen was pushed into the southbound lanes and collided with the Ford.
That impact caused the driver of the Ford to lose control of the vehicle, resulting in it spinning out in front of the school bus. The school bus and the Ford crashed head-on.
The school bus driver, who is 34 weeks pregnant, was taken to the hospital for precautionary measures. Meanwhile, seven children who were on the bus were also taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries and precautionary measures. Additionally, the Volkswagen’s driver and one of the people in the Ford suffered major injuries, including a broken leg and internal injuries. Up to two other people in the other vehicles were taken to the hospital for minor injuries.
Children Remained Calm Following El Sobrante School Bus Crash
Xina Ash witnessed the accident and told reporters she heard the sounds of metal crunching and tires squealing.
A different witness who assisted victims of the crash said the children on the bus remained calm.
“They didn’t even realize what had happened,” Cheyenne Boyer said. “They were just asking, ‘What happened?’ And I said, ‘You guys were in an accident. You’ll be alright.’ The bus driver was basically the most traumatized one. The kids were actually really calm and understanding.”
“I ran out to the bus to render aid to the children,” Boyer told ABC 7 News. “The bus driver was pregnant and panicked. I did what I could.”
California Highway Patrol Investigating Multi-Vehicle School Bus Accident
California Highway Patrol said they are investigating the accident, but they do not believe drugs or alcohol were factors.
“Just driving behaviors,” said CHP spokesperson Officer Brandon Correia.
Initially, a witness suggested the Volkswagen hydroplaned, causing the crash. Reports indicate the road was wet when the accident happened. Officials temporarily closed San Pablo Dam Road while fuel and other fluids that spilled onto the roadway were cleaned up.
“It’s possibly speed combined with wet slick roadways,” said CHP spokesperson Hannah Walcott.
Officials are still looking for witnesses to the crash. Anyone who saw the collision or events that led up to it is asked to call CHP Officer Mendoza at (925) 646-4980.
School Bus Safety Still a Concern for Advocates
One of the major sources of contention for safety advocates is a lack of adequate safety features on school buses, putting students at risk of serious, even life-threatening, injuries in crashes. Luckily, none of the students suffered critical injuries in the California school bus crash, but there have been major crashes involving school buses where one or more students died. Advocates say those lives may have been saved if buses had proper safety features, such as seatbelts.
One such crash was the Chattanooga, Tennessee, bus crash on November 21, 2016, that killed six students on their way home from Woodmore Elementary school. Another 22 students were injured. Bus driver Johnthony Walker faces 34 charges related to the crash, including vehicular homicide. Recently, prosecutors noted they have evidence the bus driver was on his cell phone during the deadly Tennessee crash. Officials also allege Walker was driving more than 20-miles-per-hour above the speed limit when he lost control of the bus, and it crashed into a tree and utility pole.