Thirteen St. Louis elementary school students received minor injuries Thursday when their school bus crashed through a guardrail and ran down an embankment on Interstate 44. The bus driver, who police said swerved to avoid a car, was hospitalized but not seriously injured.
All but one of the students had been discharged from St. Louis Children’s Hospital by early afternoon. They live in St. Louis and were headed to a Parkway district school, where they are enrolled through the region’s voluntary desegregation program.
One of the 13 children was tested for trauma because he fell out of the bus, but even his injuries are mild, said Dr. Kimberly Quayle, the hospital’s director of emergency medicine.
“Lots of bumps and bruises and cuts and scrapes, but no serious injuries for any of those children,” Quayle said. “That’s pretty typical. Despite the severity of what appears the bus looks like, or the condition of the crash, most children do okay inside of a bus.”
The news came as a big relief to Hanna Woods Elementary School Principal Patrick Shelton, who checked on his students at the hospital.
“The first thing that goes through your mind when you get the report that there’s a bus accident is are the kids okay,” Shelton said. “So definitely a huge relief as we come here and find out that all the kids are going to leave with their families today.”
The director of the voluntary desegregation program, David Glaser, echoed that relief.
“We’re just happy that the kids are okay,” Glaser said.
The driver, who underwent tests at Mercy Hospital, is employed by Missouri Central School Bus, which has a contract with the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation to transport city students to their schools in St. Louis County.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol said the bus crashed through a guardrail and traveled into a wooded ravine at about 8 a.m., Thursday, after the driver swerved to avoid a car near Lindbergh Boulevard.
“The bus driver was able to keep the bus upright,” Sgt. Al Nothums aid. “That probably saved lives. … If it would have (rolled over) there’s no doubt in my mind that there would have been serious injuries.”
Nothum said the driver of the car in question, who admitted to speeding, lost control on the wet pavement.
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