UPDATE 6:32 p.m.: After the printing of this report, A Chesterfield bus driver was charged with a DUI after being involved in a hit-and-run in Richmond Friday, April 29.
RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Henrico County Police Division (HCPD) is investigating a school bus-involved crash that happened Friday morning, less than 12 hours after another school bus crash in Brunswick County.
In 2022, authorities in Chesterfield and Henrico Counties and the City of Richmond confirmed to 8News that there have been a total of 32 school bus-involved crashes in those localities. However, not all of these incidents resulted in injury. In some cases, police said that the crashes could have been minor, such as hitting a branch and breaking a mirror.
Friday, April 29
At approximately 7:28 a.m., HCPD responded to the report of a crash involving a school bus that had been rear-ended by a van in the eastbound lanes of Staples Mill Road (Route 33), near Townhouse Road. According to a release, the right lane was closed while police and first responders assessed the situation. The investigation reportedly revealed that a van rear-ended the school bus, causing significant damage to the van, which was towed from the scene. But the bus remained drivable. Authorities said that students were on board the school bus, but none were taken to the hospital.
The adult female driver of the van has been charged with following too closely, improper registration and failure to have insurance.
Thursday, April 28
After the end of the school day, at approximately 3:46 p.m., a Brunswick County Public Schools bus was involved in a crash on Brodnax Road. According to a release from the school division, six students from Totaro Elementary School were on the bus at the time.
Officials from the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police (VSP) and emergency medical service personnel arrived at the scene to provide assistance. The release stated that there were no major injuries, but two students were hospitalized as a precautionary measure. A spokesperson for the school division told 8News Friday afternoon that the students involved were doing “okay.”
“While the accident remains under investigation, please know that the safety and well-being of our students remains our top priority,” Division Superintendent dr. Kristy Somerville-Midgette said. “We will continue to provide any assistance the students and families involved may need at this time.”
The superintendent confirmed to 8News that there was no other vehicle involved in the crash.
According to VSP, an investigation revealed that the school bus was traveling east on Brodnax when the right side of the bus ran off the road and hit a driveway culvert. The bus driver reportedly overcorrected, traveled back onto the roadway and crossed the centerline, sideswiping a tree on the left side of the road. Authorities said that although the school bus sustained minor damage to the suspension and driver’s side rear, speed did not appear to be a factor. A VSP spokesperson said that the bus driver has been charged with reckless driving.
Thursday, April 21
Students and adults were hurt last week after a Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) bus ran off Hull Street Road, according to the county’s fire department. The bus crashed through a guardrail and ended up flipped over on its side in the bottom of a ditch. A Chesterfield County Police Department (CCPD) spokesperson said that the driver of a 1997 Ford F150 was traveling west on Hull Street Road when the vehicle veered off the road, overcorrected, and hit the school bus. The driver of the Ford reportedly stayed at the scene for questioning.
At this time, there is no update on the conditions of the individuals who were involved in the crash, according to CCPD.
There have been previous school bus-involved crashes in Central Virginia in 2022. Police reported the following data:
|Chesterfield County||Henrico County||City of Richmond|
This comes after many of the school districts in the area were experiencing bus driver shortages at the beginning of the academic year. For example, both HCPS and CCPS reported approximately 100 such vacancies each at the end of Sept. 2021, while Richmond Public Schools (RPS) reported 12 bus driver openings on Sept. 13, 2021.
According to a CCPS spokesperson, the school division did not have a single bus driver vacancy as of Thursday. However, there are some anticipated openings for the upcoming academic year, as the spokesperson noted that there is often some attrition over the summer. To address this, CCPS is holding a recruitment event, currently scheduled for May 31.
At RPS, the school division has just one bus driver position posted, which was shared on its website in March.
But in at least two of the recent school bus-involved crashes, authorities found that school buses were rear-ended by other drivers, who have since been charged.
A spokesperson said in response to Friday’s crash, “Henrico Police reminds all drivers to remain alert, avoid distractions, and ensure their vehicle is properly registered.”