The new school year at Golden Hill Elementary School in Florida got off to a bit of a bumpy beginning on the afternoon of Thursday, Sept. 7, when a school bus carrying 26 children collided with a light pole in front of the school as it was departing school grounds following dismissal.
While six students and the driver of the bus were hospitalized with minor injuries stemming from the collision, it wasn’t long before all of them were released from the hospital, according to Florida School District officials.
“The driver of the bus, a male, is employed with Student Bus Company, out of Spring Valley,” said Barry Lewis, the district’s communications specialist. “He is no longer assigned to our district and though the investigation is ongoing, it is our understanding that he may have failed to negotiate the curve properly because he diverted his eyes to take a quick look in the mirror above him.
“Weather was not an issue, and the bus was going at a slow rate of speed,” Lewis added. “Still, the force of the bus colliding into the pole was enough to ruin the poll and damage the front of the bus.”
The students on the bus, which was equipped with cameras, ranged from Pre-K to Grade 5, with the Pre-K and kindergarten students sitting towards the front of the bus.
Moments after the collision, Lewis said Schools Superintendent Lisamarie Spindler made the decision to have all 26 students and the driver moved from the bus to the school cafeteria where they could receive almost immediate medical evaluations from the school nurse and soon-to-be arriving emergency personnel.
When it was determined that six students and the bus driver needed to receive care at area hospitals, Spindler notified their parents and then began the process of notifying the parents of the students remaining at the school.
“It could have been worse,” Lewis said. “We are fortunate this happened in front of the school because it enabled our staff, including the superintendent and our school nurse, to respond immediately. Everyone did an outstanding job of working together to ensure the situation remained as calm and organized as possible. Before we knew it, the fire department, police and EMTs arrived, and six students and the driver were taken to area hospitals and each of them are back in school.”
Lewis said that in it’s communications with Warwick Town Police, the school district has no reason to suspect that the driver was suffering from a medical condition or was under the influence of a foreign substance.
Student Bus Company was awarded a five-year contract through the 2027-28 school year by Florida’s School Board during the bidding process earlier this year.
“Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our students, and on that front we owe a debt of gratitude to our staff for their amazing efforts as well as to the responding police, fire and EMT personnel,” Spindler said. “This accident will be carefully investigated and evaluated. Our school bus teams undergo rigorous training and follow strict compliance protocols to ensure safe transportation every day.”