PRICE, Utah -- A school bus driver in Price, Utah, could face charges after police said he took kids to school on a crashed bus.
Price Police Chief Kevin Drolc said the driver crashed into a cement barrier near a canal Wednesday morning, then took off and kept driving his route. Upset parents said the school district failed to notify them of the incident, and that their children rode to school in an unsafe situation.
As Brent and Kimberlee Innes drove behind the bus Wednesday, they noticed the damage.
“I was like, ‘Wow… how is this even happening?!’” Brent told KSTU.
Having just dropped off their own children at school, he said they began to follow the bus and film it.
"We were in shock and disbelief that it was still driving,” Brent said.
He said the bus looked like it was drifting, with the back end often ending up in the shoulder, dangerously close to the sidewalk and parked cars.
“The back end was just so off kilter, it just looked like he was sliding down a sheet of ice,” he said.
They weren’t sure if the bus was empty or not.
“I hope there’s not kids in that bus,” Brent is heard saying on the video as his wife films.
But there were kids on the bus and it was headed toward the school. Jordan Burrows said his six-year-old son was one of them. Burrows said his son told him later that night that the bus showed up looking like it was driving sideways.
“He said that the back-end of the bus was hitting trash cans on the way,” Burrows said.
In addition to hitting trash cans, Innes said it narrowly missed hitting a car. Eventually, the bus pulled into the school to drop the children off.
“How they got there safely is beyond me,” Innes said.
Chief Drolc said they became involved after several complaints of the bus came in. Officers tried catching up with the driver, but couldn’t track him down until he made it back to the school district garage.
The driver told police he knew he was in trouble, so he thought he’d just drop the children off and take the bus back, Chief Drolc said. Burrows said the district didn’t tell parents about the incident.
“Why weren’t we notified?” he asked.
On Thursday, the Carbon School District released a statement saying the driver did not follow protocol, that the district was not aware of the situation until the kids had arrived at school, and that they fired the driver.
Burrows said he still has questions about why protocols weren’t followed, and what the school district is doing to ensure this situation doesn’t happen again.
“I’m afraid for my own child’s safety,” Burrows said.
Drolc said they cited the driver, 75-year old Juergen Kaehl, with improper lane travel. He said the city attorney will decide whether to file charges for reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident.
Here is the full statement from the Carbon School District:
“On November 15, 2017 a school bus ran into a concrete barrier at a canal. The incident damaged the bus. As student safety is our top priority, our bus drivers are trained to secure the bus, notify the transportation department, check on the students and wait for assistance. Unfortunately, the bus driver did not follow protocol and continued to drive the damaged bus both picking up and delivering students to school. When district personnel were made aware of the incident, the students had already been delivered to the school. The driver's employment has been terminated.”