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Slick rural road sends Chase County Schools bus onto side PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 24 December 2015 00:00

The 2003 Chase County Schools bus was traveling north but spun almost 180 degrees after flipping onto its side. (Jan Schultz | Johnson Publications)


By Jan Schultz

The Imperial Republican

Parents and school officials at Chase County Schools (CCS) all breathed a sigh of relief Friday afternoon after learning occupants in a rolled school bus were all okay.

It was the last day of classes at CCS before Christmas and students were on their way home after a 2:30 p.m. early dismissal.

Roads were slick after three and a half inches of snow a few days earlier, as driver Rhonda Huicochea was maneuvering the 2003 Bluebird bus on a narrow, hilly rural road about 12 miles east of Imperial.

Seven students ranging in age from six to 12 were in the northbound bus on 341 Avenue about two miles north of Old Highway 6. As the bus started on a downhill incline, Huicochea began to brake, said Chase County Chief Deputy Mike Dukes, which sent the bus into a slide.

It then hit a berm on the west side of the road, which flipped the bus onto its right side, then it spun nearly 180 degrees, sending it over onto its right side, Dukes said.

Huicochea, who called in the accident herself shortly after 3 p.m., was then able to help all of the students out of the back escape door of the bus before emergency vehicles arrived, Dukes added.

They were all out of the bus when the first fire unit came on scene. The children and driver were taken inside the rescue unit to warm up after waiting outside on the road in chilly temperatures, he said.

All were transported to Chase County Community Hospital by Imperial EMS. The deputy was uncertain whether anyone was kept overnight, but believes no one sustained serious injuries.

Personnel with Sinner’s Paint & Body Shop of Wauneta were unavailable Friday afternoon to tow the bus away.

A county grader was brought to the scene and pushed the bus, believed to be totalled, to the shoulder. Barricades were set up around it overnight, Dukes said.

Sinner’s towed the bus away on Saturday.

CCS School Supt. Joey Lefdal said the road the bus was on “is a terrible road,” and said even as the bus traveled slowly, slick roads played a part in the accident.

“I’m just glad everyone was okay,” he said.

Several units with the Imperial Volunteer Fire Department were on the scene with the two EMS ambulances, Deputy Dukes and Sheriff Kevin Mueller. County Emergency Manager Duane Dreiling also responded.