On the same day that the Whitley County school district transferred an old junked bus to the Goldbug Volunteer Fire Department so it could be used for training purposes, the fire department assisted at the scene of one crash involving a school bus Monday morning and at the scene of another crash Monday afternoon where it initially appeared that a school bus was involved.
Fortunately no one was injured during either crash.
Goldbug Volunteer Fire Chief Brandon Woods noted that the two accidents Monday highlight the fact that you don’t know when a bus crash will happen.
“It just shows you that it could happen at any time,” Woods added.
During its regular monthly meeting Thursday, the Whitley County Board of Education voted to transfer a surplus 1992 bus to the fire department.
Whitley County Superintendent Scott Paul said that the school district and fire department had to jump through some regulatory hoops before the transfer could be made.
One was that the fire department had to prove that it received at least 25 percent of its funding from other state agencies, and it had had to prove that it was tax exempt.
“They have provided paperwork certifying both of those things,” Paul noted.
Paul said that the bus has been stripped down, and it is basically just shell.
The Goldbug Volunteer Fire Department provides fire protection for four schools that are located in the Whitley County School District.
“It obviously benefits us. Goldbug uses our facilities, and our parking lot for trainings anyway. I think it would be really nice if we could make that transfer. Before you turn a bus into a pop can, why not get some training out of it,” Paul added.
Woods said that sometime next month, his department plans to conduct a training exercise with the old bus where it will simulate having to cut trapped patients out of a school bus.
He said that state fire rescue has an instructor, who specializes in bus extrication and will supervise the training exercise.
“Fortunately we don’t have many bus accidents and when we do they are minor,” Woods noted. “It’s not something we train on very often. Worst-case scenario – if it ever happened – it is something we need to have trained for. We need to at least be familiar with it that way if we do need to extricate out of a bus, we know how to do it.”
Monday morning wreck
No one was injured when a passenger car rear-ended a Whitley County school bus about 7:47 a.m. Monday in the Goldbug area. There were no children on the bus at the time.
Whitley County Sheriff’s Sgt. Todd Shelley, who investigated the crash, said that “by the grace of God” nobody was injured during the crash.
Shelley said that Rita Ann Petrey, 53, of Petrey Lane, was driving a full-size school bus on US25W and was stopped waiting to make a left hand turn onto Ky. 204 when she was rear-ended by a 1999 Mercedes Benz, which was driven by Arthur Hill, 50, of Williamsburg.
“She had her turn signal on. We have a witness stating that. He was unable to stop, hit his brakes and slipped up and under the bus,” Shelley said.
The bus sustained very minor damage. The Mercedes sustained moderate to severe damage. Hill had one passenger in his vehicle, his son, Shawn Hill, 29.
Arthur Hill was cited for failure of owner to maintain required auto insurance.
Goldbug Volunteer Fire Department provided traffic control at the scene until the wreckage was cleared. Whitley County Emergency Management also assisted at the scene.
Monday afternoon wreck
A Williamsburg man narrowly avoided striking a Whitley County school bus after he lost control of his car and went into a fairly deep ditch.
Initially, both the car driver and the bus driver thought that the car had struck the bus, but further investigation revealed this hadn’t been the case, noted Whitley County Sheriff’s Deputy Jonas Saunders.
The accident happened about 4:15 p.m. on US25W near Hemlock Drive.
Carl Bennett, 64, of Williamsburg, was driving a red Pontiac Grand Am north on US25W when someone ran him off the road and he lost control. Bennett ran off the road, hit some posts and then went in the ditch.
“He said he thought he hit the bus and the bus driver thought he hit it too, but the bus driver must have hit one of the posts because we didn’t see any signs of damage or anything from the vehicle on the bus, and I didn’t see any marks on the vehicle from the bus,” Saunders noted.
Bennett refused to be transported by Whitley County EMS.
Saunders said the car suffered severe damage.
Saunders is investigating the crash. He was assisted at the scene by members of the Goldbug Volunteer Fire Department, Whitley County Emergency Management and members of Whitley County EMS.