Metro school bus service under microscope in lawsuit and crash numbers

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jerry Perfect remembers the October of 2014 moment as if it were yesterday.

"Just a normal day, normal routine, till the phone rang," he said.

A call from his wife to alert him that his daughter Sarah, a senior at Ray-Pec High School, had been hurt in a bus accident while on her way with her teammates to a district volleyball match.

"I was just frantic, continuously praying the whole way," he recalled.

Perfect found his daughter at a hospital with a broken back, and a long and painful recovery ahead for her. She was among the most seriously hurt of her teammates in that crash. The Apple Bus Service driver was ticketed for an unlawful u-turn resulting in an accident.

Now Perfect, on behalf of his daughter, is suing the Cleveland, Mo., based school bus service provider, claiming negligence.

And it's not Apple's only crash.

In fact most recently, since December of 2015, it has been involved in six crashes in the Kansas City area.

And between January 1 of 2015 to January 31 of 2016, Apple buses have been involved in 44 crashes in a nine-county area according to Missouri Highway Patrol records. That's nearly double the crashes for First Student Bus Service, which had 24 during the same period. Durham has had two. Side-by-side comparisons are difficult, because the miles traveled by buses isn't provided.

But the attorney for Perfect says the numbers are troubling:

"That seems high to me. I mean I find it high," said Rob Sullivan. "I do commercial vehicle cases not only involving buses and that is a number that causes concern. The question is why."

Apple Bus declined an interview with FOX 4 News, but did provide a lengthy statement to questions emailed to its safety director.

The spokeswoman says: "Everything a driver does must start with safety, the way the route is designed, the way a driver drives the route, always driving within the law of the highway as well as road conditions, interactions with students and driving in a defensive manner to allow for other driver mistakes."

She added Apple can't comment on specific crashes, but believes most are due to mistakes made by the other drivers.

READ: Apple Bus Service's Full Statement

Meantime, while she awaits an October trial date on her law suit, Sarah is now a freshman at Missouri State University and her dad says, doing fine.
But he worries about her future and how long her back will hold out as she gets older.

"This is something that never needed to happen," Perfect said.

HELPFUL WEBSITES:

School Bus Safety Facts from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

USDOT School Bus Company Search