Emergency crews responded to a crash involving a school bus in St. Louis County Thursday morning.
Thirteen children were transported to St. Louis Children’s Hospital with minor injuries, the bus driver was transported to a nearby hospital. One of the children was ejected from the emergency exit. All children range in age from 8 to 13. The driver is in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery.
All 13 children have been released from the hospital as of Thursday afternoon.
According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, another driver lost control of their vehicle and the bus driver was trying to avoid that vehicle causing it to go over the guardrail. The bus driver, 37-year-old LaVitta Conrad, is being credited with keeping the bus upright during the accident.
“He said he was exceeding the speed limit when he tried to pass the truck and lost control," said Sgt. Al Nothum, with the Missouri Highway Patrol. "He was honest and said he was late for work and that’s why he was driving too fast.”
The school bus driver swerved to avoid the accident, went through the guardrail, and down an embankment. Residents who live in a neighborhood near the accident scene rushed to help.
“It was a blessing I was in this path to help these people. It’s a blessing,” said Leslie Johnson, who was walking to work when he saw the accident.
Johnson and other good Samaritans helped the children get off the bus. Johnson also noticed the bus was smoking.
“You have to get the kids off. That’s all I was thinking, get the kids off the bus and make sure that bus don’t catch fire and cut it off,” Johnson said.
Mike Nelson — another witness and good Samaritan — said, when he got to the bus, one child was too scared. Nelson said he carried the child to safety.
“So my first response was to get him out of the bus, and then I did a double check to make sure nobody else was trapped in between the seats or anything,” Nelson said.
Nothum credits the school bus driver, LaVitta Conrad, 37, for keeping the vehicle upright. He said the accident could have been far worse if the bus would have flipped.
“It was a combination of her good driving going down that hill and a little bit of luck,” Nothum said.
Conrad was pinned in the bus, and first responders had to cut her out.
Nothum said the driver who caused the accident could face charges or citations, but they have not been filed yet.
The Missouri State Patrol said, “School buses are the safest vehicle on our roadways.”
A school spokesperson said the children were going to Hanna Woods Elementary School from the city.
The school tweeted out the following statement.
We certainly felt the arms of the community wrapped around our Parkway family today. pic.twitter.com/IQsIpXPabS— Parkway Schools (@ParkwaySchools) May 11, 2017
Scene photos: School bus accident on I-44