Garyville bus accident causes minor injuries

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 21, 2005

RESERVE — A school bus transporting 30 Garyville/Mt. Airy Magnet School students was involved in an accident Thursday afternoon , causing minor injuries to three students and the driver of an oncoming truck.

The accident occurred shortly after school dismissal at the intersection of Historic Main Street and River Road in Garyville.

All the students, the bus driver and the driver of the truck were taken to St. James Parish Hospital in Lutcher as a safety precaution.

St. John Parish Superintendent Michael Coburn said only three students were listed with minor injuries, which included a few cuts and bruises. All students were released from the hospital.

School bus driver Belinda Zeno did not suffer any injuries. Truck driver James Ramirez suffered a minor contusion and cut to his forehead.

Ramirez, who is an AC/HVAC maintenance technician for St. John the Baptist Parish Schools, was treated and released from the hospital.

“Our first priority is the safety of our students and employees. We’re very thankful that no one was seriously injured in the accident and that everyone was able to go home,” Coburn said. “We’ll continue to monitor all those involved to ensure their well-being.”

Zeno, an 18-year veteran bus driver for the school system, was ticketed with failure to yield, according to police records. The accident report indicates that Zeno pulled her bus in front of Ramirez as he was traveling west-bound on River Road. Ramirez’ truck hit the driver’s side of the bus.

Coburn said Zeno has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of a mandatory drug test and investigation of the accident.

Coburn noted that only the three injured students and Ramirez were transported to the hospital by Acadian Ambulance. The other students remained on bus No. 59, and they were driven by a replacement driver to the hospital.

Coburn said all parents of the 30 students were immediately contacted by school officials and alerted of the situation. They were asked to report to the hospital to pick up their children.

He also noted that Shelton Smith, principal of St. John the Baptist Parish’s Redirection Center, assisted at the scene of the accident. Then Smith and Kelli Joseph, Garyville/Mt. Airy Magnet Schools’ principal, stayed with the students at the hospital until their parents arrived.

Coburn said a mechanic will assess the damage caused to the bus and make any necessary repairs before returning it to the school system’s operational fleet.