While Wednesday’s accident near North Webster involving four Wawasee Community School Corporation school buses remains under investigation by the Indiana State Police Motor Vehicle Division and Kosciusko County’s Fatal Accident Crash Team, the school corporation has released video showing a fraction of what occurred that afternoon.
Video from bus #30, driven by Cyndi Routh, was the only clear video available for authorities to review, according to WCSC Superintendent Dr. Tom Edington. Routh had stopped on SR 13 to drop off a student when the crash happened.
In Wednesday afternoon’s crash, bus #28, driven by John Wagoner, 60, slammed into the rear of bus #44, driven by Julie Close. The impact started a chain reaction collision which forced Close’s bus into the rear of bus #48, driven by Dave Granger, which collided with Routh’s bus, which did have operable flashing lights and stop arms.
Edington said only video from Routh’s bus was salvageable, but also noted buses driven by Wagoner and Close were older and were not equipped with video cameras. “The video from the second bus (#48) was damaged and unclear,” Edington said. “It’s possible Indiana State Police can enhance it and that’s part of their investigation.”
The buses involved in the crash were all taken to the WCSC bus garage and, according to Edington, ISP investigators were there Thursday inspecting each vehicle. “It’s floating around out there that (Wagoner’s bus) brakes failed, but I heard no indication of brake problems and that is all part of what the police are looking at,” he added.
A call to ISP Sgt. Trent Smith, who serves as the public information officer, has not yet been returned, but Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Chad Hill said the preliminary investigation shows no mechanical failures on any of the buses involved in Wednesday’s crash. Further, all lights on the buses appear to have been working properly. The investigation is continuing.
As of this morning, Edington said the number of students hurt or affected by the crash remained at about 50. “One student did stay overnight in the hospital for what I understand was neck or head (injuries), possibly a concussion.” Edington added, “The student was taken to a Fort Wayne hospital but it was for observation.”
Beyond that, the superintendent said he had not been made aware of any other specific injuries other than one student received stitches or staples to a head wound, another suffered a cracked collarbone and a third sustained a cracked hand bone.
Edington noted, “I do know students are being checked on daily to see they are still OK both physically and emotionally and there are counselors on hand they can talk to. This was certainly a traumatic experience for many of them.”
WCSC Attorney Dave Cates said that, as of this morning, he was not aware of any tort claim notices that had been filed, which would be the first step in a lawsuit against the corporation. “We’re certainly just glad that no one was hurt any worse,” he added.