A 77-year old school bus driver who was involved in a two-bus crash earlier this week is reported to have been in two previous school bus accidents since February of 2012. The most recent accident sent 21 students to the hospital, and many are wondering whether it is time for him to find a new occupation.
Richard N. Lee Jr. of Port Allen, Louisiana was driving a First Student school bus loaded with close to 60 students from West Baton Rouge Parish when he rear-ended another school bus. According to State Trooper First Class Jared Sandifer, Lee crashed into the back of the other bus and was given a ticket for careless operation of a vehicle. The other driver, Renita Trufant of Baton Rouge, was not charged in the accident, in which police say that Lee was travelling approximately 45 miles per hour when he slammed into the bus ahead of him, which had its warning lights on and was stopped in front of a student’s home.
The students on Lee’s bus were both elementary school and middle school age, and were from Chamberlain Elementary and Devall Middle School. Though there were no serious injuries, twenty-one students were taken to nearby hospitals following the crash before being released.
The accident shut down North River Road, where the accident took place, and parents were sent scrambling in search of their children. The principal of the elementary school said that though two of the children had to be airlifted from the scene, it was because of a lack of ground transportation rather than because of any serious injury.
Sandifer says that Lee had been in two previous bus accidents, and that an investigation into his driving history will be requested of the Department of Motor Vehicles. In the first accident, which took place early in 2012, he sideswiped a car travelling in the opposite direction while going around a curve. In the second accident he rear-ended a passenger car and forced it to collide with a vehicle in front of it. No students were on board his bus at the time of the previous crashes.
Disciplinary action against drivers is handled by the bus company, First Student, but the Division of Motor Vehicles could independently revoke his driver’s license due to the fact that he has caused three accidents in less than two years.