DURANGO, Colo. — A school bus driver was distracted by noisy students before his bus veered off of a narrow road last week, district officials said.
Dan Snowberger, superintendent of Durango School District 9-R, and other local authorities held a press conference about the Nov. 17 crash on Thursday. The press conference can be viewed in a video by The Durango Herald.
The school bus was carrying about 42 students at the time of the crash. Snowberger said that screaming arose from the back of the bus, and the driver looked in his rearview mirror and reached for his whistle, which he used to get the attention of students.
At that time, Snowberger said, the bus appeared to pull to the right and slid off the side of the road. The superintendent noted that the road, like many in the area, is very narrow and has no shoulder.
As the bus went down an embankment, it hit a drop-off and did a complete roll, Snowberger said. He noted that the bus had undergone an inspection a week before the incident, and it had passed with no issues.
Ten passengers and the school bus driver were taken by ambulance to a local hospital. Some students were transported by another school bus to the hospital, while others were picked up by parents.
In a message posted on the Durango School District website the day after the crash, Snowberger said that all of the students had been treated and released from the hospital.
The school bus driver, who was new to the job but had experience as a truck driver, was placed on administrative leave while the incident is investigated.
"Obviously when accidents happen, we want to ensure that we take a strong look to ensure that something in the system wasn’t missed," Snowberger wrote. "I assure you that I will be transparent on my findings and take appropriate action."
The superintendent also said in the press conference that the district would implement new policies and procedures related to student behavior "to make sure we create a very safe environment on all of our buses."
According to The Durango Herald, the school bus driver was charged with careless driving, caused by distraction.
View the press conference below.