Railroad Bridge Catches Bus - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Benton, IL

Railroad Bridge Catches Bus

Railroad Bridge Catches Bus
By:  Carly O'Keefe

BENTON, IL -- There were some scary moments for some middle school children visiting the Heartland Saturday when the bus carrying them became stuck under a railroad bridge.

The church bus, owned by Pleasant Ridge Church of Lawrenceville, Illinois, was carrying 20 New Hebron Christian School children home from a track meet in Benton. Just before 1 p.m. the bus hit a low-clearance 7' 6" railroad overpass on South Du Quoin Street in Benton.  

"The driver didn't realize he wasn't going to fit under it," said Benton Police Patrolman Roger Erthall.

The driver said he actually noticed the bridge was too low, but it was seconds too late. He applied the brake but the bus didn't stop in time. The bus didn't hit the overpass at full speed, but was going fast enough to damage the exterior roof of the vehicle and break a couple of windows.

Of the 20 5th to 8th grade student athletes onboard, 10 were taken to Franklin County Hospital for treatment.

"Most of it was minor cuts, busted lips, several people complaining of shoulder injuries but nothing major," Erthall said.

Rail traffic halted for 45 minutes after the accident until railroad officials could assess whether or not the bridge was safe for trains. Trains resumed once the bridge was found to be structurally sound.

Police say this isn't an isolated incident at the 7' 6" clearance railroad bridge.

"This probably happens four times a year with people trying to drive under that overpass," Erthall said.

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