Twenty-four students at Meadows Elementary School arrived late – but safe – to school Thursday morning after their bus was involved in an accident.
The crash occurred shortly before 8:30 a.m. at the intersection of 1st and Franklin Avenue, near Auburndale Park.
Topeka Police Officer Jon Soden says the Durham School Services bus was headed north on SW Franklin Avenue when the driver became distracted by one of the students, causing him to run the stop sign.
The bus struck an eastbound maroon Crown Victoria that was going through the intersection. The collision forced both vehicles over the curb and into the front porch of a home on the northwest corner of 1st and Franklin.
“That Crown Vic’ saved my life,” said Cheryl Singleterry. “I was headed east, he was headed north and didn’t stop. There’s nothing you can do. The next thing you know, you’re under it. It’s running you over.”
Singleterry, who was driving the Crown Victoria, was visibly shaken, but uninjured after emerging from the vehicle. The front end of her car was partially trapped underneath the bus and sustained significant damage.
None of the 24 children on the bus were injured.
Shortly after the crash, Meadows Elementary faculty members came and escorted the children onto a second bus. As the students walked single-file to the bus, some stopped to hug faculty members and one was heard saying, “I’m fine, but it looks like we’ll be late to school.”
Singleterry says she was far more concerned about the kids than she was her car.
“I asked about them and told them that they were very good; and they were,” Singleterry said. “They were very brave. They sat on that bus and paid attention to everything the driver told them. Then they asked me, ‘Are you okay? Are you okay?’ They were very well behaved and deserve a lot of credit.”
A supervisor with Durham School Services, a private company contracted by Topeka Public School to provide transportation for students, says the driver was “pretty sort and upset,” but otherwise OK.
Topeka Public School spokesperson Misty Kruger says the district will work with Durham and the Topeka Police Department to investigate the crash.
“Durham has protocols in place for their employees, so they’ll follow those. And we’ll do an internal investigation as well,” Kruger said. “Our biggest concern is making sure the students were okay and then of course to you we have protocols for notifying families and in following up with them to make sure that they’re doing OK.”
The homeowner, who would not give his name, was asleep when the bus hit his house. He told WIBW News Now the impact of the collision “felt like an earthquake.”
Officer Soden says the bus driver was cited for running the stop sign.