Girl severely burned while riding school bus in Mariposa County

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Sadie Belcher can't help but wince in pain as her mom, Cheryl Gibbs, cleans her wounds and changes her bandages.

To distract her, Gibbs strikes up a conversation.

"Tell me about your day at school today," she said.

Underneath the gauze, second and first-degree burns are just beginning to heal.

"It looks like she is definitely going to have scarring," said Gibbs.

"When they are not covered, it feels like a 13 out of 10 and it makes me want to cry really badly," said Sadie.

But it's where she got those burns that's the most troubling for Gibbs.

Earlier this month, the Mariposa Elementary School seventh-grader was riding the school bus to class.

She was asleep and was jolted awake by a loud noise followed by a burning sensation.

"I was getting burned by some liquid and I had no idea what it was," she said.

According to investigators, a hose carrying piping hot coolant burst, spraying Sadie.

"Have you ever burnt yourself on a toaster?" Asked Sadie. "Just the tip of your finger. It felt like that times 10, but all over you."

The pain caused Sadie to cry out, and another student sprang into action, treating her injuries and calming her down.

Another called Gibbs, who was working at the time.

"I imagined the worse," said Gibbs "I had not a clue. I mean, my kid has been burned on the bus, in the bus, off the bus, where by the bus? How does that happen?"

The worst of the burns were on Sadie's shins and ankles.

She was wearing a jacket, which her mom says protected her from any further injuries. Gibbs expects the healing process to be long and costly.

"Between gas and bandages and products, over $300 dollars and it has not been easy," she said.

Action News spoke to officials with the Mariposa County School District, but they couldn't go on camera. They do, however, tell us that all other buses have been inspected.

Meanwhile, the bus where the incident happened has been turned over to the district's insurance company who's working to determine if this is a manufacturer or mechanical error.
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