Students describe Mariposa County bus crash

February 20, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A local high school student describes the bus crash that injured four of her classmates. Investigators in Mariposa County are still piecing together how the rollover accident happened.

The crash happened around 4:30 Tuesday afternoon on Highway 49 near Greeley Hill Road in Mariposa County. 16 students were on the bus at the time.

The students attend Mariposa County High School and were on their way home to the Coulterville & Greeley Hill areas when their bus skidded off the highway & over an embankment. Most of them were brought to the Coulterville Fire Department, where their families were relieved to see they were not seriously hurt.

One look at this school bus shows just how close it came to rolling all the way down a snowy hill on Highway 49. Four students and the driver suffered minor to moderate injuries, but authorities say these trees helped prevent a tragedy.

"That's pretty much what helped us here," CHP Officer Nick Norton said. "It was definitely on the side of everyone on that bus."

Jerry Green saw the aftermath of the crash Tuesday night and stopped by for another look at the wreckage Wednesday afternoon.

ABC30 asked, "What do you think seeing the bus today?"

Green replied, "I think they're very lucky."

Mariposa County High Junior Kodi Reddick was one of the 16 students on board when the driver lost control coming around this sharp curve.

"It was weird," Reddick said. "I looked out right as we were going over, and I saw the road where we should have been, and we just went off."

Reddick says she was up in the air, dangling by her seat belt before all of the students started climbing out of the back window. She took these pictures as they waited for help. She also tells us the driver was a substitute who may have struggled with the sudden, heavy snow.

"He was trying to put on chains, and I think he was speeding up to try to get them to connect, and he didn't realize he was going around a corner too fast," explained Reddick.

CHP officers shut down Highway 49 Wednesday afternoon to allow tow truck drivers to pull the bus back to the roadway. They're still investigating the exact cause of the crash but say speed does appear to be a factor.

CHP Officer Norton added, "At this time it just appears the bus was travelling a little too fast for the conditions."

ABC30 called the Mariposa County Unified School District but did not receive a response. School was cancelled Wednesday because of the remaining snow and ice on the roads. Highway 49 is still closed as crews continue working to pull the bus back to the road.


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