No major injuries reported in two bus accidents

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2008


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE — St. John school officials had two different bus accidents to deal with this week.

The first accident occurred on Wednesday and involved third and fourth graders going to Head Start, however no serious injuries resulted from the minor crash on Airline Highway.

On Thursday morning during the rainy weather, there was a second accident on West 10th Street right near the Airline Highway intersection. This time a parish school bus rear-ended a car at the stop light, leading to nine students and the bus driver being taken by ambulance to the hospital.

However no serious injuries were reported from that accident either, according to St. John Schools Public Relations Director Ann LaBorde.

In the Thursday crash, bus driver Clarrisa Alvis, a substitute driver, reportedly hit the back of a car that was stopped at the intersection, according to St. John Sheriff’s Sgt. Don Mince.

Alvis was expected to be charged with failure to maintain control.

St. John Transportation Supervisor Johnny Owen said there were nine students and the bus driver who complained of neck or back pain, which led to all being transported by ambulance to River Parishes Hospital.

The students were of high school age and there were a total of 17 students on the bus, along with the driver.

Alvis only began driving last year, after going through the required St. John Parish school training program. Owen said she has driven frequently this year since “we have a high absenteeism problem with bus drivers.”

A busload of St. John Head Start students were taken to River Parishes Hospital as a precautionary measure Wednesday morning, after the bus was struck in the side by a local driver on Airline Highway early that day.

School officials said that none of the children complained of any injuries, but the trip to the local hospital was standard procedure when a bus accident occurs. Owen said the result of that hospital visit showed no students were seriously injured.

The St. John bus with 13 students, a driver and a teacher’s aide, was heading west on Airline Highway when a vehicle driven by Jeff Coleman of LaPlace pulled out of the New Era subdivision and struck the side of the bus.

Coleman, 48, said he was blinded by the bright sun at that time of the morning and never saw the bus.

Owen was on the scene of the accident and said none of the students appeared to be injured.

“We had Acadian Ambulance come to the scene and check with the kids, but none of them said they were injured,” Owen said. “But we still take them to the hospital to be checked, just to be sure.”

State Police on the scene were still investigating shortly after the accident, but indicated Coleman would probably be cited with failure to yield.

Coleman was driving a 2007 Toyota Forerunner, which was badly damaged on the left, front bumper. The bus only had a few scrapes on the side and was driven by Constance Placide, who has been driving for eight years.

“Those buses are pretty tough,” Owen said.

Coleman said he was just thankful none of the children were hurt.

“I looked once, but didn’t see the bus due to the sun in my eyes,” he said. “I’m just thankful no kids were hurt. I’ve certainly never hit a bus before and hopefully this will be the last time this will ever happen.”