Some parents are asking for answers after a Jefferson County Schools bus ran off the road Monday morning.
Bus 98 crashed around 7:30 a.m. Monday off East Dumplin Valley Road. Thirty-one students were on board – two received minor injuries.
Jefferson County Schools Transportation Director Sherry Dotson said 45-year-old Kenton Williams was behind the wheel, and became distracted opening a vent window after a moth or insect flew in front of his face. Children on board confirmed this story, she said.
The right wheels of the bus then left the pavement on the curve. Williams was unable to right the vehicle, and struck a tree.
Dotson said she believes if the tree had not been there, the bus could have rolled over.
“The tree was a divine intervention,” Dotson said.
Several windows were broken on the bus, and the right side of the roof was partially caved in.
She also noted there wasn’t much room for mistakes on that stretch – the district measured the road at 8 feet, 2 inches, and the bus is 8 feet wide. There is no shoulder.
Williams was cited by the Tennessee Highway Patrol for Failure to Exercise Due Care, but the district said he has not been suspended, and is back driving a bus.
THP also conducted a drug and alcohol test – Williams tested negative from alcohol, and the results of the formal drug test are not available yet. Officers on the scene visually determined he did not have drugs in his system.
Some parents reached out to WBIR 10News asking why they had not been notified of the crash by the school system, saying they found out about it when their children came home from school. Dotson said she spent Tuesday afternoon calling parents individually to explain the situation, but could not speak to the mass notification policies, or what did or did not go out to parents.
She deferred that question to Jefferson County Director of Schools Dr. Charles Edmonds. 10News reached out to Edmonds repeatedly on Tuesday, but has not heard back.
Dotson said the district is fortunate crashes like this don’t happen more often, indicating the narrow roads many of their bus routes travel.