Seating chart impressed state troopers after bus crash

A seating chart on the bus made it easier for crash investigator after a crash.
A seating chart on the bus made it easier for crash investigator after a crash.

By Christy Hendricks - email

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - A scary bus crash in the Heartland last week could prove to be a lesson in safety for bus drivers all across the state.
It's a job made even more difficult, considering this crash involved around 40 people, many of them kids.
However, Missouri Highway Patrol troopers say the bus driver did something that helped make their job easier.
A car crossed the center line on Highway 177 and crashed head on with the Nell Holcomb bus last Wednesday. Fifteen students went to the hospital with minor injuries, according to the Highway Patrol,  The driver of the car had serious injuries.
What helped crash investigators keep track of all those involved in the crash was as simple as a seating chart.  The bus had labeled each seat on the bus with the children's names.
That made the job of identifying each student much easier for crash investigators.
"As our investigators got there we had a major crash investigation unit that responded.  As they got there and started working the scene, we noticed that on the inside of the bus that the bus driver had names of all the students and where they were to be seated in the bus," said Sgt. Dale Moreland with the Missouri State Highway Patrol. "That was my first time in all my years to see that on a bus."
He says the chart really helped indentifying the students after they had left the scene.
"We were immediately able to identify where those children were located on the bus and have those names immediately," Moreland said. "Of course you have to go to school to follow up and get the addresses and so forth, but it immediately gave us the names of all the children that were actually riding on the bus."
Moreland says he thinks it's a good idea school districts put riders' names on the bus seat, but says it should remain up to the individual school districts.
He adds another step to the seating arrangement.
"Normally I think a practice as that they're seated kind of the way they're picked up and children have their choices, but for safety reasons it would make sense to seat them together," Moreland said. "Smaller children together, large children together. That would help prevent injuries in a crash."
Heartland News tried to get in touch with the school bus driver Monday, but she was unavailable.
She did go back to school and finish her rounds the afternoon after the crash.
Nell Holcomb School Superintendent Darryl Pannier tells Heartland News they implement the labeled seating arrangements on all five of their elementary school buses and have been doing that for the past three years.  They also generally seat the smaller children together and larger children together.

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