School district considers getting smaller buses after recent crash

O’FALLON, Mo. – The first day of class for 30 students in the Fort Zumwalt School District turned scary when their bus crashed. Students and the driver were injured.

By Wednesday afternoon, the damaged bus was towed away. Five students and the driver were injured when it ran off the rain-slicked road into a ditch. Two of the injured middle school students and the driver were taken to the hospital. Their injuries were not life-threatening.

“A lot of scared and upset children; that has to be expected. One minute they’re on their way to school and the next they’re involving a crash,” said Brian Moore, Assistant Fire Chief with the O’Fallon Fire Protection District.

It was the second time in less than two years a Fort Zumwalt school bus crashed on Hickory Hill Drive. Neighbors said it’s not unusual for vehicles to slide off the road.

In April 2017, another Fort Zumwalt school bus left the road. Neighbors said close to 20 cars have slid off Hickory Hill Drive in 20 years. The subdivision street is not very wide in what’s described as a rural area.

“They’re narrow roads. Obviously, a big, full-sized bus has a little more difficulty,” said Fort Zumwalt School Superintendent Dr. Bernard DuBray. “We need to look and see if we can get some smaller buses there that won’t have the difficulty the bigger buses do.”

The stretch of road where the accidents occur is privately owned. The county has no control over it.

Officials said the students did a good job evacuating the wrecked bus.

“This is specific training we recently did with the school district and the coordination between all the parties involved I really believe resulted in this positive outcome,” Moore said.

All Fort Zumwalt school buses passed the Missouri State Highway Patrol inspection this year with a perfect score. There were no seatbelts on the bus that crashed today. They are not required in Missouri.