LISTEN: 911 call after bus plunges into Butler County creek

By: KAKE News - Email
By: KAKE News - Email
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BUTLER COUNTY, Kan. -- Ten Butler County children and a school bus driver were pulled to safety from a fast-moving creek Thursday after the bus toppled into the water and landed half-submerged on its side.

The accident happened around 4 p.m. Thursday near 190th Street and SW Hopkins Switch Road, which is just northeast of Douglass.

Investigators are looking into how the accident happened, but County 911 director Chris Davis said the bus apparently went off a low-lying bridge that Douglass School District officials described as a low-water crossing.

Emergency personnel decided against using boats because of the swift current, instead reaching the bus on lines and putting the children and the driver in life jackets before pulling them to dry ground.

Jenna Alexander said her 6-year-old brother was on the bus. She said her mother became concerned when the bus was late, and a short time later she heard from the school that there had been an accident.

Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet said the children climbed out of the windows of the bus. He said none were injured, and they all waited on top of the bus until they were rescued. The children ranged in age from 6 to 12.

"They were checked out by Butler County EMS prior to being brought up to the parents," Herzet said. "The driver of the bus had been in the water for quite some time."

The driver suffered minor injuries and hypothermia. He was also safely extricated and taken to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. As of Friday morning, 64-year-old Morris F. Peterson is listed in fair condition.

"I really give all the credit to the kids that were on the bus that took the time to help each other," Herzet said. "The lesson here is not to drive through water."

"A lot of kids were screaming and crying," said Logan Parker, a sixth-grader who was on the bus. "Since I was the oldest, I was helping everybody else, so I was the last one (student) out of the bus."

Tow operators are working to pull the bus from the creek. Crews up-righted the bus Friday morning and are now working to get it out of the water. Once removed, it will be towed to a Kansas Highway Patrol location in Wichita.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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