APD report cites driver for pulling into path of the bus
By By Adam Prestridge
Three people suffered minor injuries Wednesday morning after an Escambia County school bus was struck by a vehicle at the intersection of Presley Street and Owens Street.
According to a spokesperson with the Atmore Police Department, Patricia Wilson, 28, of Atmore failed to "heed" at a stop sign as she was traveling west on Owens Street and hit the school bus at 7:19 a.m. The school bus was headed north on Presley Street en route to Escambia County Middle School after unloading at Escambia County High School.
"It just shows all of us that we need to be more observant of buses especially during that time of day when buses are taking students to and from school," Escambia County Board of Education superintendent Billy Hines said. "It always concerns us anytime there is an accident. We're always concerned for the safety of students and drivers."
Fortunately, only one student suffered a minor "bump" on the head, Hines said. The student was transferred to Atmore Community Hospital by Kelley's Ambulance Service for observation and later released. All the other students on board were reloaded onto another bus and taken to school.
Kelley's Ambulance also transported Wilson and a minor who was the passenger in the 1995 Chevrolet Monte Carlo to ACH. The driver of the bus, Cynthia Lambert of Perdido, was not injured in the accident.
Hines said all Board of Education employees handled the accident in a professional manner.
"Our bus drivers are trained on how to exit buses in case of an accident," he said. "I think everything was handled very professionally. Mr. (Larry) Davis did a good job making sure everything was handled at the scene of the accident and Mrs. (Mary Bess) Powell made sure everything was handled properly at the hospital."
Hines added that even though police reports indicate Lambert was not at fault, all drivers undergo a drug testing following any accidents no matter its extent.
"Any time any of our buses are involved in an accident, no matter whose fault it was, our driver's are immediately drug tested," Hines said. "That is standard operating procedure for school systems in the state of Alabama."
Lambert was back at work for the afternoon bus duty, Hines said.
As for the condition of the bus, the police report stated it was "totaled." At first glance the damage looks minor to the passenger side, but Hines said the frame underneath the 1997 International bus is "cracked." He also said both front tires were flattened in the accident.
If the bus can be repaired, Hines said the State Board of Education is strict with inspection prior to it being put back on the road.
"Anytime we repair a bus the state has to be inspected before we put it back on the road," Hines said.
If the bus cannot be repaired, Hines said a new bus has a price tag of just over $60,000.