14 kids hurt in 2 bus accidents

A total of 14 kids and a bus driver were injured in two school bus accidents this week.

After school Friday, a bus full of about 30 students from Oak Harbor Middle School was rear-ended by a 1988 Ford Bronco at the intersection of SW Sixth Avenue and Fairhaven Drive.

The driver of the truck, 17-year-old Ryan Bruce, was distracted by a teenaged passenger who pointed to someone walking in the street.

“Next thing I knew, I felt a thud,” he said.

Ray Merrill, battalion chief for Oak Harbor Fire Department, said eight of the kids and the bus driver, Valerie Armstrong, suffered minor whiplash-type injuries. They were transported to the hospital for treatment. None of the four people in the Bronco were injured.

Both the truck and bus had minor damage. The students were driven home on the same bus by another driver.

Jim Vannice, who lives in the neighborhood, said there are a lot of accidents at the intersection.

Wednesday afternoon, six Oak Harbor School District middle and high school students suffered minor injuries when their school bus was rear-ended by a car on East Frostad Road.

Four students were transported to Whidbey General Hospital and two to Naval Hospital Oak Harbor, complaining of neck and back pain. The decision to transport the students to the hospitals was “more precautionary than anything,” said Vonnie Edwards, director of transportation for Oak Harbor School District, Thursday morning.

The 2:50 p.m. accident occurred when the district’s bus number 11, carrying 44 students, stopped at 106 E. Frostad Road to let off a student passenger, Edwards said.

The bus driver, Adele J. Kammenga, 60, of Oak Harbor, followed proper procedure by stopping the bus with its flashing red lights and stop signs activated, Edwards said.

Della M. Campbell, 55, of Oak Harbor, driving a 1989 Cadillac Deville, collided with the rear of the bus, according to a Washington State Patrol report. The Cadillac suffered an estimated $15,000 damage and was towed from the scene.

Neither driver was injured, although Edwards said she is sending Kammenga to her doctor for a check up and to massage therapy for muscular stiffness.

Campbell declined to comment about the accident when reached by phone Thursday morning.

The school bus is “OK,” Edwards said, and it finished its route Wednesday afternoon and was back in regular service Thursday morning.

Edwards described the weather and road conditions at the time of the accident as clear and with no obstructions to the line of sight to the bus. Kammenga, the driver of the bus, was not at fault, she said.

Kammenga is on leave pending the results of a mandatory drug and alcohol test. Edwards said the testing is standard procedure for any bus driver involved in a collision, even if the driver is not at fault.

Whidbey News-Times intern Cynthia Woolbright contributed to the story.

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