Four children reportedly died and at least 14 others suffered severe to moderate injuries in a tragic school bus accident in southwestern Minnesota. According to an Associated Press article posted on the local Fox News’ Web site, the bus was initially hit by a van. Then the bus hit a pickup truck and tipped onto its side. While rescue squads and ambulances arrived, the first motorists on scene were asked to take children to the hospital, the Marshall Independent, a local newspaper reported.
The bus was carrying children from kindergarten through 12th grade. Among the victims transported to two different area hospitals, two were in critical condition and others were reportedly being treated for back and neck injuries, cuts, bumps and bruises. Two victims ages 11 and 14 had complex fractures, which required special treatment at a hospital farther away from the crash site, the report said.
This is no doubt a tough week for the people of Cottonwood, Minn. who must deal with the grief and shock of four young lives lost. Families of the severely injured will have it tough as their children gradually recover from the physical and mental trauma of a horrific bus accident that took the lives of people they knew or were friends with.
School bus safety has long been a significant and controversial issue in our country. This is one of the many sad stories that demonstrate the need for seatbelts in school buses. This accident shows that in cases where buses rollover or tip over, lives will be lost and injuries are likely to be far more severe if kids aren’t buckled up. Who knows – seatbelts could have restrained the children and prevented them from being thrown around the bus and suffering these severe injuries and broken bones. You can only wonder if these children may have been alive had the school district decided to get seatbelts for its buses.
If the bus driver was at fault, then the school district may be held liable for the injuries and loss. If it is determined that the school bus had a design defect, then the school bus manufacturer could be held liable. As personal injury attorneys who have helped dozens of bus accident victims, we know that such cases can take twists and turns as the facts unfold. There is no doubt that the families of the injured need an experienced personal injury attorney on their side protecting their rights. The school district’s legal team and insurance company were probably there at the accident site hours later trying to figure out how to protect the agency they represent or cover.
During the next few days, traffic investigators will also be looking to pinpoint the cause of this accident. Until then, the parents of the deceased or injured children must live with their questions. Our hearts go out to these families and we hope and pray that they get the closure and comfort they so badly need at this time.