Bus crash raises concerns

Published 11:05 am Thursday, November 6, 2014

The parent of a 7-year-old who was on a school bus involved in an accident near Oakland Elementary School on Thursday accuses school district officials of mishandling the response.

First responders transported nine students to Sentara Obici Hospital after a slow-traveling passenger vehicle rear-ended their bus at the corner of Godwin Boulevard and Pembroke Lane at 8:55 a.m., according to city spokeswoman Diana Klink.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue personnel assessed the 30 students and drivers of both vehicles and found no visible injuries, and Oakland Elementary principal Tamesha Dabney escorted students not taken to the hospital into school.

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Laytania White said young children often don’t know whether they’re injured or not. “All of them should have been sent to the emergency room,” she said.

White’s second-grader son, who was on the bus, was not assessed as being injured. But when another parent contacted her and others with news of the accident, White drove her son to Obici as a precaution. He was given the all clear.

The district should have used its automated phone message system to notify parents of all students on the bus of the accident as soon as possible, White said.

“If we receive a call saying the bus will be late, shouldn’t we receive a call after an accident?” she said.

District spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw said Suffolk Public Schools staff “relies on the medical expertise of emergency responders” on the scene during accidents.

Parents of students transported to the hospital were contacted immediately, she said, adding, “Parents of students that EMTs released to the school were called by the office staff as soon as possible.”

Bradshaw confirmed an automated call was not made. “In hindsight, it would have helped,” she said.

White said she has contacted the district’s transportation department to complain.

“I don’t feel that the response was adequate,” she said.

According to a letter from Dabney sent home Thursday with students who were on the bus, the school nurse “also talked with each student to note any visible injuries.”

School administrators visited the hospital to check on students and talk to parents, Dabney wrote.

“Please know that all safety measures were taken to ensure the safety of our students,” she wrote.

In addition to the nine students transported to Sentara Obici by Suffolk Fire and Rescue personnel, seven students were taken to the hospital by private vehicles, Klink stated.

No students were admitted, and all were “treated and released by approximately noon, according to Sentara officials,” she added.

According to Klink, Avidd Owens, driving a 1995 Ford Mustang, struck the bus from the rear while it was stopped to make a right turn. She was issued a summons for following too closely.

The accident closed the Route 10 in both directions for about half an hour.