As we recently reports on our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, 9 students were hospitalized after a school bus accident in Illinois. According to the Daily Herald, the school bus crashed near Sugar Grove as it rolled over onto its side and slid into a nearby field. Come to find out, this accident may have been prevented had the busing company taken the numerous complaints that had been filed against this particular bus driver more seriously.
One of the students injured on the bus that day had previously filed a complaint about the bus driver who had a history of drowsy driving. The passengers on the school bus that day were between the ages of 4 and 20. They were heading from Sandwich to Napperville, a 30 mile journey. The bus transporting these passengers was owned by Illinois Central School Bus. The busing company agrees that the accident was caused by a drowsy driver, which they say was the first time something like this has happened, despite numerous previous complaints.
The busing company states that the driver was punished after complaints about his performance. Officials with the school said that all they could do was pass along the complaints because they were not the ones who contracted the bus company. That wasn’t enough though because the driver stayed behind the wheel, endangering students.
“He started the route in September, and within days, some of us started to notice a regular pattern of him nodding off and swerving erratically,” said one complaining witness.
A teenage school bus passenger reportedly sent in a number of complaints with her grandmother. They both say that the complaints were just ignored.
On the morning before the accident, students report that the driver was falling asleep at the wheel, as had become the norm. The bus driver was allegedly woken up by the bus aide who was screaming.
One student said that she wasn’t buckled in that day by a seat belt. She says that the bus driver’s assistant was screaming at the sleeping bus driver. Within seconds of the yelling, the bus veered to the right and was thrown on its side. Nearby motorists pulled over to assist the young children.
According to officials with Kane County, an investigation is ongoing and information will not be released until the investigation is over. Lt. Patrick Gengler says that the department is awaiting the results of toxicology tests.
Illinois Central is conducting an internal investigation of its own.
Officials with Little Friends, Inc., who operates the two Naperville schools where the students were being taken, say that they knew about the complaints that had been filed against that particular driver and had made previous attempt to intervene but they weren’t able to do much because they aren’t associated with the company and were not in charge of contracting the bus for these rides.
The witness says that she is just upset that her complaints were not acknowledged. She says her concerns, as well as the concerns of the other passengers, could have helped to prevent this accident.