Bus Driver Involved in Crash on "Unpaid" Leave

FRESNO, Calif.

Students at Outside Creek Elementary School were back in class and running around on the playground -- just one day after a school bus carrying several of the kids crashed.

Superintendent Elaine Brainard said all fourteen children involved in the accident were back at school on Thursday. She said, "They don't seem to have any problems. We had a counselor talking to them and they're just behaving like regular children jumping and playing and seem to be very happy."

School bus driver Gregory Whited was halfway through his route when the California Highway Patrol says he crashed into a telephone pole then swerved across the road, slamming into several trees in an almond orchard.

The children were examined at the scene but none sustained injuries. 24-year-old Whited was sent to the hospital for lacerations to his head and has since been released.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating whether Whited was using his cell phone at the time of the crash. Several students say they saw him use his phone but couldn't be more specific.

CHP Officer Benjamin Chaney said, "I did determine he was on the phone prior to leaving the school ... but as far as using it in the crash it really can't be substantiated at this moment."

Gregory Whited is a bus driver contracted through Student Transportation Services in Visalia. STA said Whited had been a good driver with the company for several years and had no prior problems. He's been placed on unpaid leave while the STA and CHP complete separate investigations.

Even if the bus driver was using his cell phone -- the CHP said he would only face an infraction -- not criminal charges.

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