Atoka bus driver suspended after crash with children onboard - - No One Gets You Closer

Atoka bus driver suspended after crash with children onboard


ATOKA COUNTY -- The bus driver who crashed into a tree with children onboard is now suspended.

Pictures taken on Jane Pittman's cell phone show an Atoka Public School bus with its front end smashed in a tree.

Pittman says her niece and nephew were on the bus.

"If you look at the curve, speed was a factor," Pittman said. "I might get a whoopin' on this, but it was a factor."

But as startling as the scene may seem, Pittman, parents and others who live on Coal Creek Road say it came as no surprise.

They say the driver of the bus has been on their radar for years because they say he drives too fast.

In fact, together they say they've made more than a dozen phone calls to the school district to complain.

"If you're down that road, you have to get in the ditch or he's going to hit you, and driving way to fast and, like I said, I've called seven times," witness Doris Amiott said.

Jackie Harris says his four and six-year-old children usually ride the bus but stayed home Wednesday.

He says he feared the worst.

"I thought some of those kids probably got killed because I've called in and called in and they keep driving fast," Harris said.

The OHP says no one was seriously hurt in the crash. Injuries reported include headaches and sore ribs.

Troopers say the bus driver was ticketed for failing to negotiate a curve.

It could result in a $256.50 fine.

The transportation director with Atoka Public Schools has suspended the driver while an internal investigation is conducted.

"I have another driver driving that route now and then I will turn all the information from the investigation about the roads, the bus, the driver's decision, the OHP report over to the superintendent and then him and I will sit down and discuss it," transportation director Ernie Michaelis said.

Michaelis says the driver doesn't have anything negative on his background check. He says he's only aware of one complaint against the driver but that there could have been more.

As the district figures out its next move, parents and neighbors say their minds are made up.

"I don't mean to say [anything] bad about him but he needs to go find another job," Pittman said.

The OHP says it's still compiling information and plans to submit and formal report in the next few days.