Tulare County school bus gets caught in a sinkhole while driving students home

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A mix of preschool to third-grade students didn't get far from Palo Verde Elementary School on their bus ride home Tuesday.

After coming to a stop at the intersection Avenue 196 and Road 96, the bus' right rear tire sank into the ground, causing it to lean on its side.

Superintendent Phil Anderson says he got a call on the radio from the bus driver.

"We had all the students stay on the bus until we had staff over here. So I was here, our vice principal was here, and several of the primary teachers came," he said. "So at that point, we all teamed up and got the kids off the bus and walked them across the street."

The students were sent home on other buses, and the partially sunken bus was eventually lifted out of the sinkhole.

Tulare County Road Maintenance crews filled the hole. They say this is a temporary fix, and in the coming days, will dig deeper into the hole to make sure they are filling the entire void.

"Right now it's filled, and it's compacted but we will go back in there and we'll take that all out and we'll be sure that we've got every part of it," said Johnny Wong.

But this wasn't the only sinkhole discovered on Avenue 196 on Tuesday.

There was another one on the shoulder to the east. It has since been repaired.

County road officials say there is a decent chance rodent holes are to blame for the sinkholes.

But there's also an underground sewer line in the vicinity, and they'll look for any signs of a leak.

Luckily, no one was hurt, and the bus doesn't appear to have any damage. But Anderson hopes the incident brings attention to deteriorating roads in the area.

"Our bus drivers have a challenge getting kids home, picking up because of the condition of our county roads," he said. "So I'm hoping that our county can start rebuilding roads and helping us out here in the county."
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