A Rappahannock County Public Schools bus and another vehicle collided this morning at the intersection of Route 211 and Old Hollow Road in Sperryville, causing the bus to flip on its side and injure several students.
“There was an accident involving bus No. 22 this morning. While there were minor injuries, all students are safe,” said an initial statement from schools press information officer Holly Jenkins.
Rappahannock County Sheriff Connie Compton told the Rappahannock News at the scene of the accident that anywhere from 25 to 30 elementary and high school students were on the bus.
“We were lucky there weren’t more serious injuries,” the sheriff said.
Several students were transported by ambulances to at least one area hospital. No students required airlifting, Compton said.
The Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office said it received a call at 7:48 a.m. reporting a vehicle
accident involving the school bus and another vehicle and “emergency personnel and law enforcement were immediately dispatched to the scene.
“All students were removed from the school bus and treated on site,” said a joint statement from the schools system and sheriff’s office. “According to Sheriff Connie Compton, she was pleased to see how quickly rescue, law enforcement and school personnel responded to the scene.
“Parents were immediately notified and students involved were released to their parents. In addition, counselors were made available to students. While there were a few minor injuries, all students are safe.
According to Superintendent Shannon Grimsley, “I am very proud and thankful for the sheriff’s office and rescue departments for quickly working together to ensure the safety of the children.”
Senior Virginia State Police Trooper Brandon Johnson, who is leading the accident probe, said from the scene that the investigation is ongoing and further information would be released later today. Troopers from as far away as Warrenton responded to the collision.
The vehicle that collided with the bus was heavily damaged on the passenger side. The car’s driver, who reportedly was not seriously injured, has yet to be identified.
Students’ backpacks and other school materials, including articles of clothing, were strewn about the interior and outside of the bus, which suffered considerable damage. The driver of the bus was not identified. School bus No. 22 is not listed on the 2017-18 bus routes posted by the schools system on its website, although it appeared all other routes are on the current list.
School buses in Rappahannock County do not require seat belts.
According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, school buses “don’t have seat belts in them because they have a built-in occupant protection system known as ‘compartmentalization’ which is a system of seat height, seat length and padding, among other requirements. Compartmentalization is like an egg carton protecting a child.
“School buses are one of the safest vehicles on the road.”
Still, six states — California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas — now require that school buses be equipped with seat belts.