For the second time in less than two weeks, a smoking Muscogee County School District bus prompted the driver to evacuate the passengers without injury.
MCSD bus 13-791 was transporting 14 students from Aaron Cohn Middle School when smoke started enter from the rear wheel well while at a scheduled stop, the district announced Friday evening.
“The driver immediately evacuated the students off the bus and called 911,” says the news release from MCSD’s communications office. “All students are safe and have been transported to their homes by an alternate bus. The school is in the process of notifying parents/guardians.
“It was determined that there was no fire. The bus will undergo further investigation to determine the origin and cause of the smoke.”
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The news release doesn’t say the day or time of the incident, but MCSD superintendent David Lewis told the Ledger-Enquirer in an email Friday night that it happened Friday around 4:45 p.m.
On Oct. 23, MCSD bus No. 545 had nine Shaw High School students aboard when it caught fire. According to one of the student survivors, quick action by the driver helped them escape. The report from the Columbus Fire and Emergency Medical Services department says the fire ignited in the “engine area, running area, wheel area” of the bus but the cause and contributing factors are undetermined. The preliminary investigation, however, did rule out human factors, according to the report.
These two incidents are added to four other newsworthy problems involving MCSD buses in the past 15 month
▪ On Aug. 22, 2016, a single-vehicle accident killed MCSD bus driver Roy Newman, 67, and injured the seven student passengers attending Mathews Elementary School. Six of them were treated and released from Midtown Medical Center that day. The other student was airlifted to an Atlanta hospital. Her condition hasn’t been available since then.
A Columbus Police Department investigation concluded nearly a year later that, although the “exact reason” Newman’s bus left the roadway Aug. 22, 2016, “is unknown,” he was speeding and not wearing his seat belt, which was a “large contributing factor in the direct cause of the accident itself,” according to the CPD investigation’s summary. Video from the bus confirmed that conclusion.
▪ On May 19, 2017, an MCSD bus with six pre-kindergarten students from David Elementary School was in a crash with a train. No injuries were reported. The cause also hasn’t been reported.
▪ Also in May 2017, a Columbus mother said her fourth-grade daughter was bullied on an MCSD bus, where her daughter was slapped in the face, punched in the stomach and had her hair pulled by a fifth-grade girl while another one videoed the attack on her cellphone – two seats behind the bus driver, who didn’t intervene.
▪ On Sept. 26, 2017, an MCSD driver left an elementary school student unattended on a bus. The following week, MCSD announced that, although the child wasn’t harmed, the driver was fired for failing to conduct a walk-through inspection of the bus before ending the route.