HAILEY, Idaho — A school bus driver and a transportation director here are out of their jobs in the wake of a crash that injured a dozen students last month.
As previously reported, a Blaine County School District bus was transporting a junior high track team to a meet on April 18 when the crash occurred. According to the Idaho State Police, school bus driver Richard Mecham, 67, drove off the right shoulder of the highway, overcorrected, and rolled the vehicle.
Police said that 12 of the 39 students were transported to nearby hospitals — seven by ground ambulance and five by air. Chaperones on the bus were treated at the scene and released. Mecham was not injured.
The Times-News cited an Idaho State Police collision report that said Mecham was asleep, drowsy, or fatigued while operating the school bus.
The week after the crash, Blaine County School District Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes said in a letter to staff and parents that the district had been informed that charges were pending against Mecham, and he was no longer employed by the district. Holmes added that the district was cooperating fully with the Idaho State Police in the investigation of the crash, and the district had launched its own internal investigation.
“We are both saddened and shocked by this incident, and we are reviewing all of our internal procedures and policies on transportation to see if there is any way it might have been prevented,” the superintendent wrote. “Any employee who compromises student safety will be terminated.”
Last week, Holmes issued another update in which she said that Blaine County School District found “a failure to follow internal procedures and our code of ethics in supervising drivers.
“We are taking corrective action to ensure this does not happen going forward,” Holmes wrote. “The transportation director at the time of the accident is no longer employed by the district.”
The transportation director for Blaine County School District was Rex Squires. Holmes told the Times-News that Squires resigned after he was presented with investigation findings.
Meanwhile, Holmes said in her statement last week that the district was continuing to support students’ physical and emotional healing, and the review of internal procedures was also continuing.
“We are re-emphasizing to our employees that compassion and concern for a fellow employee must never take precedence over our responsibilities for the safety of our students,” the superintendent said.
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