A 15-year old employee of Tubby Tubes rafting company was killed in a bus accident that occurred earlier this month. Hunter Scofield was traveling on the bus, standing in the vehicle’s aisle as it transported passengers for tubing trips on Lake Luzerne, when the vehicle suddenly tumbled onto its side. According to passengers on the bus, the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed when the accident took place. Gerard Hirschfield was traveling with his sister Amelia, and said of the driver, “He was going really fast down this road, and he went to go take a sharp turn, and I’m not sure if the brakes cut or anything like that, but the bus turned very sharply and flipped on its side.” His sister added, “We tried to make the turn I guess, and he couldn’t do it, and we slid and we fell and we hit this one tree, this one tiny tree held us from going down the cliff and the water was right there.” Six passengers, including Gerard, sustained injuries – he suffered a sprained arm. Gerard went on to say, “I blinked my eyes and I was just laying down on the floor. I was like standing up, I saw the whole bus sideways.”
In the course of the accident- 15-year old Scofield was thrown through the bus’ open doorway, and was killed. According to fire crews who responded to the scene, most of the bus passengers were in shock. Though the bus driver indicated that the brakes of the vehicle had failed, an investigation revealed that there were no mechanical problems found with the 25-year old retired school bus. The investigation is continuing. The driver of the bus was 77-year old Daniel Shippey, who has not been charged.
Because the tubing buses do not charge their passengers for their rides to and from the rafting location, they do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation; instead they fall under state motor vehicle laws. These laws require only annual inspections, where the Department of Transportation’s rules require inspections a minimum of two times per year. Still, there was no known maintenance problem with the bus.