A minor school bus wreck but…

I was in court all day covering a murder trial and missed the nine phone calls and 23 emails alerting me to a wreck involving a school bus earlier today on Union Road.

As wrecks go, the incident involving Bus 39 wasn't a a major accident. The school bus driver hit a car while trying to turn the bus around.

But given recent public anxiety over school bus drivers caught speeding and running stop signs, it warranted a "Breaking News" heading on The Roanoke Times web site and a quick spin on the story from Mike Carr, Floyd County school system transportation director.

"It just hit it backing up," Carr told The Times. "That's all it is."

It was a little more than Carr told the Times. The Virginia State Trooper who worked the accident told me that he could have issued citations to drivers of both the car and the bus but decided to let it pass since both were at fault and no one was hurt. Yet the accident was bad enough that 10 students were transferred to another bus.

Carr's dismissive attitude is distrubing, as is the "look the other way and claim everything is fine" reactions we get from County School Superintendent Terry Arbogast. Sources inside the school system tell me accidents involving buses happen more than the school system is willing to admit. Most just don't get reported.

 

I was in court all day covering a murder trial and missed the nine phone calls and 23 emails alerting me to a wreck involving a school bus earlier today on Union Road.

As wrecks go, the incident involving Bus 39 wasn’t a a major accident. The school bus driver hit a car while trying to turn the bus around.

But given recent public anxiety over school bus drivers caught speeding and running stop signs, it warranted a "Breaking News" heading on The Roanoke Times web site and a quick spin on the story from Mike Carr, Floyd County school system transportation director.

"It just hit it backing up," Carr told The Times. "That’s all it is."

It was a little more than Carr told the Times. The Virginia State Trooper who worked the accident told me that he could have issued citations to drivers of both the car and the bus but decided to let it pass since both were at fault and no one was hurt. Yet the accident was bad enough that 10 students were transferred to another bus.

Carr’s dismissive attitude is distrubing, as is the "look the other way and claim everything is fine" reactions we get from County School Superintendent Terry Arbogast. Sources inside the school system tell me accidents involving buses happen more than the school system is willing to admit. Most just don’t get reported.

 

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6 Responses

  1. He told the Roanoke Times the accident was not related to problems with school bus driving. It most certainly is. A school bus driver who holds a commercial drivers’ license should be sure the area behind them is clear before backing up, even if the car behind the bus is parked illegally. A good driver would make sure the area behind was clear. A reckless driver does not. Yes, we all make mistakes but a driver responsible for the safety of 10 students does not make a simple mistake like backing up without making sure the area is clear. What if a person had been standing between the bus and the car? What if the impact had ruptured the fuel tank and started a fire? What if the driver had backed into a utility pole instead and brought a live electrical wire down on the bus? The overt willingness of officials like Mr. Carr and Mr. Arbogast to dismiss bad driving habits by those who transport our children displays a disregard for safety and an insult to the concerns of parents. I notice a lot of parents take their children to school and pick them up at the end of the day. When I ask why, the response is usually that they do not trust the county school bus system to safely transport their children. I find that sad indeed.

  2. Others have tried to expose Dr. Arbogast for what he is and they have paid dearly for speaking out. No teacher in Floyd County dares speak out about his abusive management style, micromanagement of the schools or absolute power over the school board. You have selected a dangerous, vengeful opponent. Be careful.

  3. Lawrence:

    While I appreciate your concern, I don’t believe we’re talking about the Godfather here. I’ve encountered many public officials like the Floyd County Superintendent of Schools over the years. Most have built their niches that provide a modicom of power within a limited range and are not used to being challenged.  Local officials are particularly egocentric when it comes to a solid belief in their own infallibility.

    Arbogast has his way of doing things and I have mine. As a journalist, I see it as my duty to question the status quo.  As a bureaucrat, he see it as his duty to protect that same status quo. We will both do our jobs — nothing more, nothing less.

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