Twenty-seven students were taken to Kootenai Medical Center Wednesday morning after a GMC Suburban rear-ended a Lakeland School District bus.
The students complained of head and neck pain, said Kootenai County Emergency Medical Services Director Mike Lopez.
“There were no serious injuries of any sort that we know about,” Lakeland School Superintendent Bob Jones said at the accident scene.
The students were checked by doctors as a precaution. Some were treated for minor scrapes and bruises, but all were released by mid-afternoon, said hospital spokesman Mike Regan.
“I was going slow,” said Jeff Crandall, the driver of the Suburban, as he slid his boot across the slick road.
“Look at the conditions. I couldn’t believe I hit a school bus.”
Crandall’s rig slid into the bus’s rear bumper, putting a dimple in the Suburban’s bumper. The bus sustained no obvious damage.
Eighteen students on the bus went straight to school, Jones said. The bus carried students ranging from elementary through high school age.
The accident happened at 8:16 a.m. at the intersection of state highways 53 and 41.
The collision was the fourth accident this winter involving a Lakeland School District bus.
“It sort of jolted us,” said Danielle Morgan, a 17-yearold passenger. “It was a little scary.”
Medical crews from 14 local agencies worked for more than an hour to place the 27 students on backboards and carry them to a waiting caravan of ambulances.
Parents filtered into Kootenai Medical Center about 10 a.m., some frantic, others merely nervous.
Moments after social workers led parent Pam Morgan in to see her daughter, she returned to the waiting area.
“That’s not my daughter,” she said, wide-eyed. “You have the wrong Morgan.”
Some students were also distressed. The accident wrenched Tracey Everts’ neck and back.
“It still hurts,” the ninth-grader said through a grimace. “All I want to do is go home and sleep.”
She sat erect in the hospital lobby and gingerly turned her head to her great uncle, Bill Wise. Wise asked about her pet hedgehogs, hoping for a smile. It worked.
“They had babies,” she said brightly.
After an hour of waiting, Virginia Morgan stood from a wheelchair, walked a circle around it and sat back down. She slumped. She tapped her black high tops on the foot rest. She sighed.
“I feel fine, but I can’t leave it until somebody tells me it’s OK,” the 13-year-old said.
Crandall, 40, a Rathdrum construction worker on his way to work, said he has car insurance. He suffered no injuries.
“If it ever happened again, I’d rather ram a state trooper than a school bus,” he said. “Not a good way to be a celebrity, ramming the back of a school bus.”
As Crandall waited for police to arrive, his children rode by in another school bus, he said.
“They were like `Way to go, Dad.”’
Assistant Superintendent Bob Dutton said the three other accidents this winter have been weatherrelated.
“In every instance it was determined to be the other driver’s fault,” he said. “In these winter conditions, I don’t know what more we can do to avoid it.”
On Dec. 12, slick roads sent a logging truck careening into a loaded Lakeland School district bus as it was stopped to pick up a student. Five children went to the hospital with minor injuries. The bus was totalled.
Two days later a van skidded head on into another Lakeland bus on Twin Lakes Road. Again five children were taken to the hospital with minor injuries while the bus received about $8,000 in damage.
Superintendent Jones said a driver slid into a fourth bus last fall. There were no injuries.
Jones attributes Lakeland’s bus problems to the increasing traffic.
And drivers are just not being careful around school buses, said Bruce Foster, whose children catch the Lakeland School buses every morning. He said he frequently sees speeding cars blast past stopped buses, ignoring their flashing lights and stop arm.
Three other minor school bus accidents occurred Wednesday in Kootenai County. There were no injuries.
MEMO: A sidebar appeared with this story under the headline “Recent school bus accidents.”