SALYERSVILLE, Ky. (FOX 56) — The biggest question people are asking following Monday’s school bus crash in Magoffin County is how something like this could happen.
At this time, we do not know the exact cause of the crash, but Kentucky State Police said the bus went off the road in the direction it was going, the driver overcorrected, and it went down a hill on the other side of the road and crashed.
The Kentucky Department of Transportation said the state works to improve school bus safety.
Every year, superintendents are required to create reports of all school bus incidents that occurred.
During the 2020-2021 school year, there were a reported 380 school bus accidents throughout Kentucky with 174 in rural areas, like the one that occurred in Salyersville.
If there is a crash, the improvements made to school buses minimize injuries and hopefully deaths.
“We have rollover features on the school bus which helps keep the roof intact,” said Elisa Hanley with the Kentucky Department of Transportation. “Which help keeps the body intact when there is an accident.”
Despite the safety improvements, the bus in Magoffin County was missing one critical safety feature.
“Seat belts? No, the school busses do not have seat belts,” said Superintendent Chris Meadows.
In Kentucky, counties have the choice to implement seat belts in their school buses or not.
The bus was driving down Kentucky Route 40. Given the narrow nature of the road, there have been calls for implementing a guardrail as this is not the first accident to happen in the area.
“As I understand it, that is an area that has been slated for the possibility of putting up a guardrail, but there is a lot of infrastructure under the road when it comes to water and sewer, and it has created some barriers to get in to at the present time,” said Magoffin County Judge-Executive Matt Wireman. “Anytime a tragic event like this happens that obviously causes things the possibility to accelerate so we will definitely be looking into that.”
There have also been calls for changes to the bus route.
“I’m sure that can be explored but I don’t know how feasible that could be considering the number of roads that would feed into that Route 40,” Meadows explained. “A lot of side roads and areas that we cover that several busses run through there.”
According to Hanley, however, there are things for bus drivers to avoid troublesome roads.
“Understand that we don’t go down certain roads for reasons such as road detrition,” said Hanley.
FOX 56 is still looking into how the bus rolled down the hill as there are conflicting reports.
Some said it flipped over its side or nose, while others said it spun out and then rolled over onto its side when it came to rest.
KSP said that part of the investigation will be released after its conclusion.
As it pertains to the bus driver, who was taken to the hospital with serious injuries, Meadows said she has been working for the district for several years and is a full-time employee of the district.
At this time, her identity has not been made available to the public.