Two elementary school students and a driver suffered minor injuries on Monday morning after a car sideswiped a school bus in Skidegate.
The school bus was travelling north on Highway 16 to deliver students to Sk’aadgaa Naay Elementary School, having already dropped off high school students at GidGalang Kuuyas Naay.
As the school bus was going by the Skidegate rock quarry just before 8:30 a.m., an oncoming car started to drive past, but then it suddenly swerved and hit the bus at the rear axle.
“The bus driver didn’t even see it coming — he just felt a big bang, and then the bus started heading towards the ditch,” said Lao Peerless, maintenance supervisor for the Haida Gwaii School District.
Peerless said the school bus engine shut down, but although the bus driver lost power brakes and power steering, he was able to stop the bus on the highway shoulder and avoid the ditch.
“It was quite an impact,” Peerless said.
The car was badly damaged all along one side. Some of the heavy-duty leaf springs from the bus were scattered in pieces on the highway, and its rear axle bent.
Peerless said the bus driver radioed for help, checked to see how the children were doing, and kept them on board until another school bus arrived and its driver checked the scene for any signs of leaking fuel. None was found.
Once the two injured students and the car driver were taken to hospital by ambulance, the remaining students were brought to Sk’aadgaa Naay on the second bus, where they had a talk with a school counsellor about the accident.
Queen Charlotte RCMP are investigating the collision.
“The bus drivers acted according to their training to make sure that everybody was safe,” said Peerless. “It’s good to have professional drivers who know what to do, and to maintain control of the bus — I give them hats off for that.”
“It’s a pretty big responsibility to be transporting children, and when something like that happens that’s completely out of your control, I imagine it gives you a bit of a scare.”