Surveillance footage from an April 21 incident in Orting, Wash., clarified some key details about the crash, which was initially reported in the media to have been caused by a bee distracting the bus driver.
Photos by Washington State Patrol
ORTING, Wash. — A school bus driver here was fired after officials reviewed onboard video surveillance footage of a single-vehicle accident in which her bus ended up in a ditch.
The crash happened on April 21. Orting School District officials said that at 2:45 that afternoon, the bus swerved off of the road and into a ditch. Police and fire personnel responded to the scene and assessed students for any injuries.
A second bus was then dispatched to transport students to the district office, where they were again checked for injuries. Orting Superintendent Michelle Curry said in a letter to parents that "no one was injured or reported injuries at the time."
The following day, a school nurse met with students individually at their schools to ensure that all students were fine, Curry added. Also on that day, the district's transportation director rode on the route with the students who had been in the accident.
"Our transportation department has a very safe driving record, and this was an isolated incident," Curry said.
Local media coverage featured a student who said that he had been injured in the crash and was not attended to by first responders and the district. However, district officials said that the surveillance video from the bus told another story.
Officials said that based on the bus surveillance footage, the Washington State Patrol reopened its investigation on the school bus driver and the cause of the accident.
"The footage provided to law enforcement and our insurance providers clearly indicate[s] proper protocols were followed," Curry said.
The surveillance footage also helped clarify another key detail about the crash. Multiple news outlets had initially reported that the school bus driver told state troopers that a bee had flown through an open window in the bus, and she said she was swatting at it when the bus veered off of the road.
Again, the video told another story. KOMO reported in a follow-up story a week after the accident that the footage, which can be viewed on the news outlet's website, shows the driver "looking down at something just before the wreck."
Curry noted in her letter to parents that, based on the surveillance footage, the Washington State Patrol reopened its investigation on the school bus driver and the cause of the accident. Also, Curry said, "based on the district’s review of the material, we have terminated the driver."
In addition to her firing, the driver could face criminal charges if she was texting, the Washington State Patrol told KOMO.