A school bus accident claimed the life of a 27-year old Navy man on Tuesday, October 22nd in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Christian Montes was on his way to work at the Norfolk Naval Station when his vehicle apparently broke down on the side of the road and was then rear-ended by a school bus. The force of the crash pushed both vehicles into a nearby intersection.
The crash took place at 6:45 a.m. when it was still apparently dark out. Montes was reportedly outside of his vehicle when the crash took place. There were almost three dozen students on board the Virginia Beach City school bus. Many of the students were either sleeping or doing homework at the time of the crash when they were suddenly alerted to an impending problem.
Student Catherine Delacruz reported that another student was yelling for the driver to slow down. Others indicated that there was a lot of yelling, and a jolt that caused many to bump their heads. Students were removed from the bus and kept on the sidewalk as first responders worked. Many witnessed the Navy man lying under the bus.
The students were transported from the scene of the accident. Twenty-four of them were accompanied by their Assistant Vice Principal to their school, Bayside High School via another bus that arrived on the scene. A Sentara Healthcare spokesperson indicated that eleven students had been treated at two of their local hospital locations for minor injuries, including headaches and neck pain.
Many of the students that were onboard the bus were reportedly very upset by the incident, which was the first fatal crash involving a Virginia Beach school bus in almost a decade. They were permitted to call the families and many parents arrived at the school and were permitted to take them home for the day. The school made arrangements for a crisis response team to be onsite to provide counseling to those who were struggling with the event.
The Virginia Beach Police Department shut down the road where the accident took place for several hours in order to complete their investigation. Their work is ongoing but it has been determined that neither speed nor alcohol were the cause of the accident. Additional investigations are being carried out by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, which will determine whether any charges will be filed against the bus driver. Additionally the school district’s transportation and employee relations departments will review the crash and determine if action needs to be taken against the driver.