Near bus accident in Copperas Cove

This is a picture sent to the Killeen Daily Herald Wednesday morning. 

SUBMITTED PHOTO

A close call between a school bus and train resulted in dismissal of a Copperas Cove Independent School District bus driver.

The accident occurred Tuesday at 4:18 p.m. near the railroad crossing on 17th Street. According to a press release, 25 students were on bus No. 52 as it began to proceed across the railroad tracks. As the bus entered the tracks, the red flashing light began, the bell sounded and the crossing arm began to come down.

The bus driver reversed the bus off the track, but the crossing arm came down on the bus. The release said the bus was not in contact with the train and no students were harmed in the incident. The driver was not cited, according to the release.

The students from the bus were placed on another bus with a new driver and transported home.

CCISD’s Director of Communications Wendy Sledd said the driver was dismissed from his duty. The name of the driver was not disclosed by the district.

The district noted in their press release bus drivers receive 25 hours of in-service training at the beginning of each school year in addition to the state-mandated 20-hour certification required to receive their licenses to drive a bus.

All CCISD bus drivers will undergo a railroad crossing refresher course before their afternoon routes Wednesday, the district said. The district has 93 bus drivers.

Bus drivers are also required to enroll in an eight-hour recertification course every three years. Drivers also attend monthly safety meetings covering a myriad of topics.

The district’s news release also pointed to federal government statistics that show during normal school travel hours, student fatalities by teen drivers make up 58 percent of all fatalities; when traveling with adult drivers make up 23 percent of all fatalities; while only 1 percent of fatalities occur when traveling by school bus.

“This equates to students being 50 times more likely to arrive at school and back home alive if they take the bus than if they drive themselves or ride with friends,” CCISD Deputy Superintendent of Operations and Support Services Rick Kirkpatrick said. “Our drivers undergo drug and alcohol testing throughout the year and undergo frequent driving record checks to ensure our students are safe.”

CCISD has not had a fatality-related school bus accident in more than 40 years “despite traveling thousands of miles and transporting thousands of students every day,” according to the district. Here are the statistics of the CCISD Transportation Department for the 2016-2017 school year.

– Transported more than 5,594 students daily

– Drove 170 routes every day last year

– Traveled 479,669 miles per last year on routes and 2,710 miles per day

– Traveled 90,797 miles transporting extra-curricular students to events

– Traveled 570,466 miles in total last year

Parents with questions or concerns should contact CCISD Director of Support Services Gary Elliott at 254-547-3362.

jsteers@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7464

(2) comments

timebandid

It seems that the bus driver made a judgement here that didn't work out due to traffic behind him. Is this really a firing offence? If he has a clean driving record other than this one incident, he should have been given a refresher course in crossing railroad tracks and allowed to continue working. It doesn't seem like the infraction merits termination. I hope there is a termination review or some other recourse he might seek to have another view point on this issue. Obviously, if this driver has other driving offences not stated in this article, the point might be moot.

centexdave

Something does not make sense here if this article is factual and accurate. Just what did the bus driver do wrong? He started up the incline to cross the tracks, the warning lights started flashing so he stopped, put the bus in reverse to back up and the warning bar came down on the front of the bus. He couldn't back up further because there was an SUV blocking him and a line of cars behind the SUV. I've used this street and cross the tracks numerous times. There is no direct line of sight to see any oncoming train from far away. This is just a cop out by CCISD.

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