School buses crash, one man hurt
Sixteen students were shaken up after back-to-back school bus accidents occurred Thursday morning at the same fog-bound rural intersection.
The Innisfail-area students were not injured. Neither were the two bus drivers.
But the collisions, which, involved a third vehicle, left a 53-year-old male with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
According to the Innisfail RCMP Freeway Patrol, the front end of a southbound school bus with two students on board went off the road. The bus was attempting to turn at the T-intersection of Range Road 272 and Township Road 350 just before 8 a.m.
Visibility was poor and roads were snow covered when a one-ton pickup truck stopped to try to help move the bus, which partially extended across the road.
At about 8:05 a.m., a second school bus carrying 14 students was travelling westward toward the same foggy T-intersection.
The bus collided with the pickup truck, about 10 km east and 6.5 km south of Innisfail.
The truck then struck a man who had stopped to assist the first bus.
And the second bus hit the first school bus and ended up in the opposite ditch.
RCMP Sgt. Ed Plitz said the man sustained broken bones and was rushed to York Regional Hospital Centre by ambulance.
The accidents remain under investigation.
But Plitz said weather conditions were a factor.
You couldnt see anything beyond 50-feet . . . the visibility was so bad I had to jump out of the way of (an oncoming vehicle) while I was setting up flares.
Police attempted to alert other motorists of the accident scene with three parked police cars, lights flashing, and numerous lit flares.
Chinooks Edge, which owns and operates both buses, will also be investigating to determine if the collisions could have been prevented, said assistant superintendent Pieter Langstraat.
We are thankful our students dont have serious injuries, and we are concerned about the individual who was injured on the road.
Its always upsetting when you have an incident like this. Our priority is the safety of our students and children, added Langstraat, who noted these are the first school bus accidents for the division in many years.
The 16 students, bound for John Wilson Elementary or the Innisfail Junior/Senior High School, had no discernible injuries, but were emotional and upset, added Langstraat.
The shaken-up students were dismissed from school for the day.
Parents were notified they could pick up their children after a third bus brought them into Innisfail. The administrator advised the students get checked by a physician as a precautionary measure.
Arriving parents were clearly upset and understandably so, said Langstraat, who tried to answer their questions and concerns.
Tracey Walker, chair of the parents advisory council for John Wilson Elementary School, was relieved no students were injured.
She expects the bus accidents will be discussed at the next parents meeting. The safety of the students is our main concern, said Walker, who added, the school division has always been open and keen to answer questions.
She expects the divisions accident report will be made available to interested parents.