Early Indications Suggest No Mechanical Flaw In Kosciusko Bus Pileup

By Jeff Neumeyer

May 24, 2013 Updated May 24, 2013 at 5:15 PM EDT

NORTHEAST Ind. (www.incnow.tv) --- Investigators say early on there’s no sign of mechanical failure in Wednesday's big chain-reaction bus crash near North Webster.

Wawasee Community School officials on Friday released video from inside one of the buses at the time of the mishap.

It showed the heads of children snap forward in their seats.

Then several kids let out screams in the seconds that followed impact.


Wawasee Community Schools Bus Crash: Full Video

The final bus in a line of four rammed into the back of bus number "three", on State Road 13 Wednesday, as the first bus had stopped to let a student off.

The driver of bus "four" is recovering from emergency surgery.

Officers planned to come to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne on Friday to try and speak to that driver, to see if he could shed light on what went wrong.

Police are saying it could take a couple of weeks or longer to pinpoint a cause of the crash.

They are saying they’ve now found skid marks, indicating the driver of bus 4 did apply his brakes in an attempt to stop before impact.

Results from drug tests performed on the driver may be ready as early as next week.

Indiana school buses include several features to try and ensure the safety of kids in the event of a nasty crash.

We were invited to board a Fort Wayne Community Schools bus to report on some of the features.

They carry the most treasured cargo we have, our children.

That's why the pictures from the Kosciusko County accident caused us all to shudder.

Bus number 4 was so damaged, you couldn't even exit through the front door.

Frank Jackson, the manager of the FWCS South Transportation Center on Ardmore Avenue, showed us devices installed on school bus windows, which allow students to use alternative exits.

"The handles are red, which indicate emergency, and are pretty easy to operate for any child, even elementary kids," said Jackson.

Lifting the handle permits the window to swing open, and create an opening large enough for most children to slip through.

Mike Emerson, an FWCS supervisor of bus garage operations, walked us down the center aisle of the bus, leading us back to the rear door, which can also be pushed open easily, in case it’s needed as a way to get kids off the bus in a hurry.

He also showed us roof hatches that are customary on district buses, and are helpful in evacuations, especially in a rollover scenario.

Typically you don't find seat belts on Indiana buses.

Despite that, there were no kids seriously hurt in the North Webster crash.

Frank Jackson maintains that’s all part of the plan.

He says school bus seats are padded, have tall backs, and are close together, so passengers can't fly around in the event of an impact.

Every 2,000 miles, FWCS buses are brought in and a technician then puts them through a detailed inspection, looking for mechanical flaws.

" We check the steering, the brakes, the depth of the tires, and that technician goes through that bus with a fine tooth comb," Jackson said.

In addition, the bus drivers themselves are required to do pre and post-trip inspections daily.

They check the tires, stop arms and look for fluid leaks.

All FWCS buses are equipped with multiple cameras that record the actions of drivers and passengers.

Unfortunately, only two of the buses in this week's crash had cameras on board, and not the two that sustained the worst damage.




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