No one was injured when the Wetzel County School bus carrying the Magnolia High School junior varsity football team was lightly hit by a vehicle on I-70 Monday night.
Wetzel County Schools Transportation Director Brian Jones says at the time of the incident Bus 35 was traveling west on the interstate after the team faced Linsly on the football field. The bus was in the right-hand lane, approaching a rear-end collision that had just occurred in the left-hand lane; there were no first responders to that accident, Jones noted. Two cars in the left-hand lane swerved to miss the accident. One lost control, bounced off the guardrail, and ended up coming to rest against the bus, which was then stopped.
"There were no injures at all - to the students or staff," said Jones. In fact, he said there were not even any injuries at the original accident. "Everyone was safe," he reiterated.
The student athletes were checked by an emergency medical technician, who found they were all uninjured. "I encouraged staff to use cell phones to call parents to let them know what had happened and that they were fine," noted Jones.
"We contacted the appropriate resources here and got a spare bus to bring the passengers home," said Jones. He said that is standard protocol-not to move a bus with kids on it after an incident, no matter how minor. "That was the need to get a spare bus there," said Jones. One student was picked up by his parents and the other 24 passengers were transported on the spare bus.
Staff did not move the bus until directed by the police to do so. There was minimal to no damage on the bus-simply some paint rubbed off the bumper. "It was used the next day in the afternoon after it was checked out," said Jones.
"Safety is of the utmost importance," he continued. School buses are required to be inspected twice a year and do preventative maintenance every six weeks. Wetzel County does the latter every four weeks. "If they're not safe, they don't go out on the road," he reiterated. "Our bus inspector is very, very thorough," said Jones.
He was also happy to report that Wetzel County is getting six new buses this year, when their normal bus replacement schedule is two or three per year. They already have two new buses in place and expect the remaining four this month.