In an incredibly tragic story, the state of Tennessee saw its worst school bus accident in recent memory just last week when two buses collided in the East Knoxville area taking the lives of two young students and a teacher's aide.
According to preliminary accounts, the No. 44 bus from a nearby intermediate school was traveling eastbound on Asheville Highway last Tuesday afternoon when the driver, for reasons as yet undetermined, made a hard left turn that took the bus over a concrete island.
Unfortunately, the No. 44 bus crashed directly into the No. 57 bus from a nearby primary school with such speed that it caused it to flip onto its side and slide for a considerable distance before finally coming to a halt in the westbound highway lanes.
Sadly, two children, ages six and eight, and a 46-year-old teacher's aide were killed in the bus crash.
Two children, age seven, as well as one of the bus drivers were hospitalized and are listed in stable condition. In total, over 20 students were taken to area hospitals for treatment for minor personal injuries and released the same day.
Currently, both the Knoxville Police Department's Fatal Accident Investigation Unit and the National Transportation Safety Board are both trying to determine what exactly went wrong during last Tuesday's commute.
It is worth noting that several of the crash witnesses, including the children riding the buses, have reported road conditions as being exceptionally slippery at the time. Furthermore, both school buses were outfitted with video camera systems that should provide the Knoxville PD and the NTSB investigators with some additional insight.
Here's hoping that the inquiry yields some much-needed answers, which can go a long way toward improving traffic safety and, more importantly, helping families and communities heal.
Sources: WBIR, "Police release names of victims killed in school bus crash," Mike Donila, Dec. 3, 2014; The Los Angeles Times, "Crash of 2 school buses in Tennessee under federal investigation," Kurtis Lee, Dec. 3, 2014