Two Goddard school buses collided Thursday afternoon, leaving at least eight children with minor injuries and dozens of others shaken and scared, authorities said.
About 60 Apollo Elementary School students were on board the buses when one rear-ended the other just north of neighboring Explorer Elementary School, 454 S. 167th Street, Goddard Public Schools Police Chief Ronny Lieurance said.
Some students sustained minor bumps and bruises, but no one was taken to the hospital.
“We had a variety of injuries reported initially – anything from bit lips, bit tongues, banged up noses, foreheads, cheeks,” Lieurance said at the scene.
There was “no visible bleeding or anything of that nature,” he added. “Just more pain complaints.”
Those complaining of injuries were evaluated by Sedgwick County Emergency Medical Services staff and released to their parents, who were notified of the crash by phone, Lieurance said. The rest were picked up by parents or rode home on other buses.
The accident happened around 4:15 p.m., shortly after the two buses pulled out of a drive at Goddard’s Eisenhower Campus, home to Eisenhower High School, Eisenhower Middle School and Apollo and Explorer elementary schools. Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Lt. Mary Mattingly said the buses were headed north on 167th Street West, south of Maple, when the first bus crashed into the second.
The second bus then bumped into the rear of a minivan, also driving north. The driver of the minivan – its sole occupant – was not hurt, she said.
Authorities said it appears the woman driving the first bus was briefly distracted by a student who was not sitting in a seat, which led to the crash. The woman will not be allowed to return to her duties for at least a week while the district conducts an internal investigation, Lieurance said by phone late Thursday.
“Then we will make a decision that’s in the best interest of the kids she’s driving to and from school here,” he said.
Several parents notified of the accident picked up their children at Explorer Elementary School, south of the accident site.
Preston Barger, of Wichita, held his daughter’s hand as they hustled away from the collision. He said he received an e-mail from the principal of Apollo Elementary School saying “two buses were involved in an accident and that the kids would be delayed in getting home” and there were no injuries. His daughters, ages 8 and 6, attend Apollo.
Barger said his girls were not injured, “just a little shaken up.”
“Obviously it’s an accident so you’re concerned about your kids,” Barger said, as the girls stepped into his SUV. “But it looks like they’ve taken care of the situation, so I’m pleased with how it turned out.”
School district police are expected to review the crash with administrators and other school officials in the coming days, Lieurance said.