INWOOD, Iowa — Authorities in northwest Iowa are investigating a collision involving a car and a school bus that occurred Tuesday morning near Inwood. A Netherlands Reformed Christian School bus was stopped to pick up students and was rear-ended by a 2010 Chevy Impala driven by a 16-year-old boy.
There were 15 children on the bus at the time and all of them appeared to be unharmed, but the two people who were in the car have serious injuries. The driver was taken to a local hospital and the passenger, a 14-year-old boy, was air-lifted to a hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, authorities told KELOLAND TV.
Dan Breuer, principal, Netherlands Reform Christian School, confirmed to SBF there are no injuries among the students who were aboard the bus. However, based on the information the school has received, the passenger of the other car suffered more serious injuries than the driver.
"This is likely due to the fact that the driver side impact was just outside the driver side of the bus while the passenger side was more underneath the back of the bus," he said. "The front passenger side was under the bumper of the school bus."
Damage to the bus was estimated at $5,000 and damage to the Impala was estimated at $15,000, KELOLAND TV reports.
The Iowa Department of Transportation has not released the vehicle back to the school yet because it is still conducting the investigation, but Breuer said the rear bottom window, some sheet metal on the driver’s side and the caging around the fuel tank were damaged. The bus involved in the crash was one of the school’s original fleet of 2007 model year buses.
Both Breuer and Max Christensen, executive officer of school transportation at the Iowa Department of Education and the president of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, said the driver of the car apparently hit the bus very hard because it became lodged underneath the back of the bus during the accident. In fact, a state school bus inspector told Christensen that the car was “rammed in under the bus so hard and so tight that they had to get a tow truck in to lift up the back of the bus to pull the car out before they could even get the two boys out of the car,” he said.
“Overall, the accident was a tribute to the construction standards of the bus to hold up so well with that amount of impact,” Breuer said.
The accident will not hold up bus route operations at the school, Breuer added, since it added two new buses to its fleet, now totaling 12 buses, this year.
“We hadn’t cycled out any of our spares yet, so we [can] keep going with our fleet, even if it takes a couple months for us to iron out all the details on this bus,” he explained.
Christensen said he thinks there is likely a rise in these types of crashes as the school year starts, because motorists haven’t gotten used to seeing school buses back on the road yet.
One new safety initiative the state has put in place is using the LED message boards placed above freeways to remind motorists to look for stopped school buses, Christensen said. Other steps that have been taken to increase road safety, as in previous years, include state troopers speaking to various public groups about school bus safety during the back-to-school season, and public service announcements on local news broadcasts reminding audience members that school is back in session and they need to look out for stopped school buses.