HAVERFORD TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) – CBS3 is getting an exclusive look at the chaos that unfolded on a botched school bus ride in Delaware County on Tuesday. The incident was all caught on cell phone video, and concerned parents want answers about how things went so wrong,
The superintendent of the Haverford Township School District sent a letter to parents apologizing for the incident. The letter says a mechanical issue led to an antifreeze leak.
Cell phone video taken by CBS3 reporter Joe Holden’s daughter shows what appears to be antifreeze leaking on the floor of the bus near student’s backpacks.
The superintendent says three students were treated after contact with the antifreeze. Eyewitness News is working to figure out just how bad their injuries are.
CBS3 also obtained cell phone video that shows the bus’s rear exit open while the bus was still moving.
School officials say a student opened the exit as the driver was trying to pull over to stop the bus. Fortunately, everyone safely exited the bus after it stopped and there were no injuries from that.
Other students captured video of the incident as well, and some debate part of a school-issued letter that claimed: Fortunately, all safely exited the bus once it was stopped.
“When they got passed the intersection of West Chester Pike, kids started jumping out the back of the bus,” Renee Viscusi, a parent of a child on the bus, said.
Her two other sons, who are in high school, happened to be riding behind the bus when the incident happened. They took the video she is outraged about.
“The bus had stopped, and kids started jumping out. But then the bus started moving again while kids were still trying to jump out,” she said.
Officials say an additional bus was sent to that location to take the children to school.
Some students chose to walk the rest of the way to Haverford Middle School, which was more than a mile. Parents were shocked to learn what happened.
“That’s scary. That’s terrifying,” a parent said. “Like you think your kids are safe on the bus. Every time you send your kids out in this day and age, you’re scared.”
The superintendent did apologize in her letter to parents on Tuesday. No word if the bus has been fixed.
The school addressed the incident in the following letter to parents:
I’m writing to let you know about a mechanical issue with one of our school buses yesterday morning and to provide you with information about this incident. A video from the incident has been shared on social media and you may see a news report about it. We want to communicate the most accurate, up-to-date information directly with our parents and to respond to any questions or concerns you might have about this.
Yesterday morning at approximately 7:20 a.m. a bus transporting students to Haverford Middle School incurred a mechanical failure and began to overheat causing antifreeze to leak inside the school bus. This caused steam from the engine and some antifreeze to move into the bottom of the cabin of the bus. Seeing the steam (or what students have termed as smoke), a student near the back of the bus opened the rear exit while the bus was moving at a slow rate of speed. A video of this, which shows the bus traveling through an intersection when the light appears to turn red, as well as some students jumping from the rear of the bus, has been shared on social media.
An additional bus was sent to the location to take the students to school. Some students walked to the middle school and all were accounted for. Unfortunately, some of the students near the front of the bus had contact with the antifreeze spray on the floor of the cabin. Some were treated by our school nurse, while some students were taken by their parents for treatment for skin contact with the antifreeze. This is obviously upsetting and never what we would want to happen.
Yesterday, our administrative team, including Middle School Principal Dan Horan and myself, were able to speak with the parents of students who had come in contact with the antifreeze. Mr. Horan and his guidance staff met with all the bus riders as a group yesterday morning to talk with them about what had happened. We also have told parents that we will immediately replace any shoes, backpacks, or other clothing that came in contact with the antifreeze.
We were working quickly yesterday morning to gather information and notify families that were impacted by this incident via email as soon as we could. Unfortunately, we didn’t have complete information and access to all the videos. We did not in any way mean to downplay the seriousness of this incident in our notification to those families.
We are extremely sorry this occurred, and we are working to quickly determine what happened to cause this malfunction. While this investigation is underway, we are reviewing safety precautions, protocols, the response of our personnel, and a new driver will be assigned to this route.
Our buses are routinely checked and maintained, and we will continue to perform these preventative evaluations as well as look into why and how this malfunction occurred. Our standard protocol includes an inspection by the state, and this bus was inspected in August.
While it may sound trite, we are sincere in saying that the safety and welfare of our students is our priority, and we will continue to do all we can to ensure they are safe both at school and on the way to and from school.
If you wish to contact me, you may call 610-853-5900 x7201 or email mreusche@haverfordsdnet.
Dr. Maureen Reusche, Superintendent