More than a dozen children were hospitalized after two school buses and a truck collided with each other last Friday morning near Tangerine Road and Interstate 10.
Just after 7 a.m., a Marana school bus driven by Raymond Tash turned north onto the frontage road next to the interstate and into the path of a second bus being driven by Lynnette Hill. Hill tried to swerve, but hit the side of the turning bus. A pickup truck heading south also tried to swerve out of the way, but clipped the second bus, according to Sgt. Chris Warren, a spokesperson with the Marana Police Department.
Both buses were filled with students and bound for Marana Middle School.
Five students and the two bus drivers were taken to Northwest Medical Center with minor injures. After the remaining 81 students were taken to a makeshift triage at the middle school cafeteria, another nine students were taken to the hospital for minor injuries. The driver of the truck was uninjured.
Later last Friday afternoon, the drivers and students were released from the medical center.
Marana Police ticketed Tash, a driver with the district since February, for failing to yield for a right-hand turn. Both Tash and Hill, who has worked for the district since 1995, will go through drug and alcohol testing, in accordance with district policy, said Tamara Crawley, a school system spokesperson.
The school district a few years ago began requiring students to wear seatbelts on school buses.
“If the kids did not have seat belts on, we would’ve seen more injures and more serious,” Northwest Fire Capt. Adam Goldberg said.
Most of the injuries were “bumps and bruises,” Goldberg said.
The last time two Marana school buses were involved an accident came in 1993 when a school bus and a special needs bus collided at the intersection of Camino de Oeste and Massingale Road, Goldberg said.
The buses involved in last week’s crash had bent frames and broken windows. They were towed to the Marana school bus depot where the district and Department of Public Safety officials will conduct a more in-depth crash investigation, Crawley said.
Though the area near Tangerine and the frontage roads was closed just after the incident, construction to install crosswalks and stoplights at the intersection continued.
“Right now the investigation is indicating that construction wasn’t a factor,” Sgt. Warren said.