CVU school bus collides with car in Brennan Woods11/26/08

Nov. 26, 2008

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

A Champlain Valley Union High School bus collided with a car Thursday morning at the rotary intersection of Chamberlin Lane and Hanon Drive. The accident occurred after one of the bus’ first stops of the morning, around 6:30 a.m.

Williston Police Sgt. Brian Claffy said the bus made a left turn through the rotary, as it normally does, since the intersection is narrow for the vehicles’ wide clearance.

“It’s the only way (the driver) can do it safely,” Claffy said of driving against the flow of traffic.

After stopping to pick up a student, police said, the bus driver continued through the rotary, making a left turn onto Chamberlin Lane without noticing the car waiting at a stop sign. Claffy said the car sustained “significant” driver’s side damage. The bus had minor damage, he said.

The three high school student passengers were transferred to another bus that arrived on scene to continue the run. Williston firefighter Ryan Prouty said the police and fire departments arrived on site after the second bus had left.

“We were going to get (patient) assessments, but they were already gone,” Prouty said.

One parent, who said her son suffered a mild concussion after slamming his head into a bus window during the collision, is furious about the accident and alleged lack of response by CVU once her son reached school.

Bridget Ritchie said when her son reached school, he was not directed to go to the nurse’s office by any administrators until after the first block started. She said her son complained of a strong headache by the time he was told to go to the nurse. Ritchie took him out of CVU for the rest of the day.

Bob Mason, chief operations officer for Chittenden South Supervisory Union, said in an e-mail to the Observer that all students were transported safely to school, evaluated by the school nurse and school officials contacted parents.

Ritchie also complained about previous incidents with the bus driver, including speeding, and said she’s heard of similar problems with other CVU bus drivers. Officials at CVU and CSSU did not comment on the driver’s identity or the driver’s record.

“You always hear these stories,” Ritchie said. “You just wonder when your kid gets on the bus whether they’ll even get to school.”

Mason said all bus drivers are employees of CSSU and the organization does not contract out its bus system. All drivers go through an application and interview process before being hired, he added.

Mason said on Monday the bus driver was on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of CSSU’s investigation, which should be wrapped up by the end of the week.