Students reflect on Dinwiddie bus accident

By Laura Geller - bio | email

DINWIDDIE, VA (WWBT) - A woman now faces reckless driving charges after the Dinwiddie school bus she was driving flipped over Friday sending several students to the hospital.

35-year-old Rae Cole has been driving buses for Dinwiddie schools for three years.

The Director of Transportation says they've never had any problems with her.

Cole didn't want to talk Saturday but several students did.

They said it started out like a trip home from school on any other day.

Junior high students had just boarded the bus.

It wasn't more than a minute later when these kids say they saw Cole reach down for something.

They'll never forget what happened next.

"Next thing you know we started skidding and we spun and hit a tree," said junior Chandra Ligone.

Bags, books and bodies tossed into the air because not one of these kids was wearing a seat belt. They say there aren't any on the bus.

"I was on the window when the bus had flipped over," said junior Quinel Henderson. "I was on the window and everybody else was on the side of the bus."

"I got up. Then I saw people bleeding and that's when I got very scared and started crying," said 6th grader Demetria Ligone.

The kids tell us this is the first year Cole had driven their bus route.

She's now charged with reckless driving.

State police inspectors found nothing mechanically wrong with the bus.

"In an SUV or a car there would have been some very serious injuries," said Dinwiddie Schools Director of Transportation Edward Tucker. "But the bus compartment held up well. The bus itself held up well."

Henderson and the Ligone sisters were all treated at the hospital for various minor injuries.

Bruised but not broken, these students are scared yet grateful to be alive.

"It makes me feel like I don't want to ride the bus for a while," said Chandra. "I'm so shook about it."

"I'm thanking God for letting me see another day," said Henderson. "Because you know, it could have been worse."

As part of protocol, the bus driver was given a drug test and physical after the accident.

At this point there's no word on a cause of the crash.

State police say Cole ran off the right side of the road and over corrected.

That's when the bus started to flip and hit a tree.

Parents say Boisseau Road is narrow and has many curves.

Acting Superintendent David Clark says it's something the school system will look at when reviewing the crash.

"We have a number of buses that go down Boisseau right now," he said. "We'll probably work with the Virginia Department of Transportation. If they feel like they're not able to improve situations there we may have to look at our bus routes."

Clark says they'll take a look at the overall response to the accident, to see what changes need to be made should something like this happen again.

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