A near miss involving a bus load of H.W. Pickup students left parents grateful for the quick response of the bus driver.

On February 21, students from H.W. Pickup were headed into Edmonton for their annual Hockey Hooky day. Other than heavy fog conditions, the roads were fine, and the buses left early in the morning.

Constable Troy Savinkoff, the public information officer for the Alberta RCMP, confirmed there had been an accident on Hwy 16, which had been reported at 9:26 a.m.

The accident occurred on range road 20 at the intersection with Hwy 16. A dump truck failed to stop at the intersection and crossed into the eastbound traffic on the highway.

The WRSD bus was passing that range road at the same time the dump truck crossed into traffic. The school bus was in the right hand lane, and still had to swerve to avoid being struck.

“We did get a report early in that collision that there was a school bus that had to maneuver to avoid being struck as this vehicle was going by,” says Savinkoff.

The driver of the first bus radioed the driver of a second bus of students following behind them. When the second bus passed, they saw that the dump truck had collided with another vehicle. Parkland RCMP responded to the incident and closed down the inner lanes east and west bound on Hwy 16 until they got it cleaned up.

Brad Volkman, the superintendent for the Wild Rose School Division, says the division is thankful that the students were not hurt.

“This is one of the reasons why, in the Wild Rose School Division, we feel very confident when we contract out our bussing services,” says Volkman.

He says sometimes it’s tempting to hire teachers or volunteers for the busing, and they may have the certification, but they may not have received the same kind of training.

“She was already in the right hand lane, she wouldn’t have had much room to swerve without hitting the ditch,” he says.

However, the driver was able to swerve so smoothly that many of the students weren’t aware of the situation.

“The report says the kids were calm,” says Volkman, “most of them didn’t even know that anything had happened.”

Afterward, some parents took to social media to praise the driver.

“I just wanted to give a shout out to whoever the bus driver was yesterday that drove HW kids to hockey hooky. This sounds weird but I thought about you all night last night and how thankful I am personally for your quick reaction time. I don’t know how close of a call it was but it sounds like it was a very close call. I think you deserve to know that as a parent of a kid who was on your bus in that moment, I’m so freaking thankful for your attention and response,” says one anonymous poster on the Drayton Valley Shout Out Facebook page.

Volkman says he cannot release the name of the bus driver. Staff at H.W. Pickup sent out a letter to the parents of the students that were on the bus so they heard it from WRSD first.

At this point, there have been no injuries reported regarding the accident. 

By Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Feb 29, 2024 at 09:17

This item reprinted with permission from   Free Press   Drayton Valley, Alberta

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