After seven students suffered minor injuries in a bus crash in Rolla Monday afternoon, Rolla Public Schools administrators are emphasizing that safety of students is a top concern of theirs.
“The most important thing is the safety of our kids,” said Kelly Hinshaw, assistant superintendent with the district. “We want our kids taken care of.”
Seven students were taken to Phelps County Regional Medical Center from the crash, which occurred in the 1800 block of 10th Street near Greenbriar Drive.
Most of the students transported to PCRMC were from Truman Elementary School and one was a Rolla High School student, Hinshaw said. School officials are not releasing their names.
Rolla Police Chief Mark Kearse told The Rolla Daily News Monday after the crash, “There were no visible injuries. The kids were complaining of headaches, aches and pains from the jolt.”
Hinshaw and RPS Superintendent Dr. Aaron Zalis both were at the crash scene. Hinshaw later went to the hospital and stayed there until all of the students were released Monday evening. School officials also followed up with the students and their parents Tuesday.
The remaining students on the bus were taken back to Truman Elementary and school officials said all of them were picked up by 5:30 p.m. Teachers still working at the school assisted when the students were brought back. “It was a team effort,” Hinshaw said.
School administrators said the parents of the students transported were all contacted while the administrators were at the crash scene. The administrators said they do their best to get the information out as accurately as possible.
“Bus accidents are very rare,” Zalis said, noting that for the majority of the time, the district’s buses are driving no more than 35 mph. He said the district’s bus drivers go “through extensive training and our safety rating is very high.”
According to an incident report from the Rolla Police Department, the 2007 International school bus was being driven by Ruth M. Ratliff, 25, of Newburg. The district’s No. 16 bus was involved in the crash.
The incident report stated that the accident occurred when a 1998 Cadillac DeVille driven by Linda I. Montoya, 46, of Rolla, and owned by Luca A. Gonzales-Rojas, of Rolla, was traveling eastbound on 10th Street and stopped to make a left turn. The bus, which was following the Cadillac, was unable to stop and rear-ended the passenger car.
The bus sustained minor damage and the Cadillac sustained moderate damage.
In addition to the seven students, Montoya and an adult passenger in the car were also transported to the hospital. There were two children in the Cadillac as well, according to Kearse.
Montoya was cited for driving without an operator’s license, according to the chief. No other citations are being given at this time, Kearse said Tuesday.
Page 2 of 2 - Kearse said the initial call came from an official at the school bus barn. The incident call was received at dispatch at 3:54 p.m. Monday.
Staff Writer R.D. Hohenfeldt contributed to this story.