Smithville school bus accident injures seven students

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Courtesy: Smithville School DIstrict

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SMITHVILLE, Mo. -- The Smithville School District said seven students were sent to area hospitals following a school bus crash Friday morning. The district said 11 students from the Primary Elementary School and Upper Elementary School, ages ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade were on the bus.

First responders transported three students to Children’s Mercy Hospital, four students to North Kansas City Hospital, and four others were released from the scene and went on to school.

Clay County investigators say the crash happened shortly after 8 a.m. Friday, near the intersection of 156th Street and Long Road. Deputies say the female driver told them she swerved to avoid hitting a truck which crossed into her lane. Deputies say there were no witnesses, and detectives will continue to investigate.

FOX 4's Megan Dillard spoke with a father whose two daughters were on the bus. His wife got the call and rushed to the school, then called her husband with the news.

“I got the call and the first thing she said was the girls are okay. When a conversation starts like that, you are on alert right away,” he said.

Rodney Harpenau and his wife Michelle drove by the place where the accident happened.

“Just by looking at it, it looks like they jumped over a creek or something here. They got pretty lucky. The bus almost tipped over from what I heard,” Harpenau said.

He said he and his family will hold each other much closer this Mother’s Day.

“I’m just, I’m just thankful that they’re okay and I can hug them again,” he said.

The school district says the safety of its students is always the first concern. Officials wouldn’t provide information about the driver because she works for Coulter Bus Service.

That’s where FOX 4 found Smithville bus number 2, and workers surveying the damage. The company did not want to go on camera for an on-camera interview, but someone with the company told FOX 4, the driver is “good” and “dependable,” and has worked with the company for about three years.

We also learned this is the second school bus accident in the Smithville School District this school year.

“I think that we are fortunate that there have been only two accidents in our district this year. We trust the drivers of our buses and they do a fantastic job,” Ashley Jones, Smithville School District's Director of Human Resource , said.

The district said there weren’t any serious injuries, but a viewer called FOX 4 and told us his 10-year-old grandson was on the bus during the crash, and was seriously injured.

Clay County said the case will be handed over to detectives, who will continue to investigate.

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