Bonner Springs Twenty-two children and a school bus driver have been taken to Kansas City-area hospitals after their bus crashed on Kansas Highway 7 in Bonner Springs this afternoon, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.
Bonner Springs police first responded to the accident about 12:45 p.m. today, when the school bus rolled over on an exit ramp for Kansas Highway 32, said Lt. Rick Schubert, a Bonner Springs Police Department spokesman. The bus was one of two filled with sixth graders from Pembroke Hill Academy, one with girls and one with boys.
The bus was traveling south on Kansas Highway 7 and left the road on the exit ramp when the passenger-side wheels slipped off of the pavement, said Trooper Howard Dickinson, a highway patrol spokesman. The bus slid down a steep embankment and then tipped over onto the passenger side, throwing many of the 36 girls inside the bus from one side to the other.
"We've got some pretty banged-up kids," Dickinson said. Among the 22 injured children, many suffered from minor head injuries, bloody noses, sore ribs, and bumps and scratches. None, including the driver, suffered life-threatening injuries. Many of the children were still being evaluated for more serious injuries.
Nine of the injured were taken to Kansas University Hospital, while others were taken to Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., and Overland Park Regional Medical Center. The bus was headed to a camp in Linwood when the accident occurred.
It was fortunate that no one was more seriously injured, Dickinson said, but the girls were very emotional. He credited the quick reactions and thoughtfulness of Bonner Springs residents and first responders who arrived with cold drinks to help calm the children.
Jason Sheahan, an employee of Reddi Services in the Bonner Springs Industrial Park, got to the scene with a co-worker, Joe Rhoney, before police arrived. Sheahan said Rhoney noticed the accident as they headed westbound on K-32 after grabbing lunch.
"He saw the door of the bus pop open. We parked the car at Wagners, and kids started pouring out of the bus," Sheahan said. "... When I saw the kids' feet hanging out the windows, my first thought was that there would be kids pinned under the bus."
Sheahan and Rhoney were thankful to find that no children were under the bus. Rhoney climbed into the bus through the back door and helped students caught on the seats inside the bus, while Sheahan helped them exit the bus.
"A girl had hurt her knee — she had just had surgery on it — and someone was bleeding, we couldn't find who it was," he said. "There was probably several concussions and a lot of head traumas, and there was some kids who had some bloody noses, but most of the kids were OK."
Sheahan and Rhoney then tried to round up the students, keep them away from the bus, keep them in a group and calm them down.
"They were all screaming, 'What happened?' and 'I want my mom,'" Sheahan said.
Sheahan and Rhoney stayed to help the students for about 45 minutes. Sheahan said another passerby who was a nurse also stopped to help check injuries.
Parents of the uninjured students picked up their children at Bonner Springs High School, 100 N. McDanield St., this afternoon.