Injured Pembroke Hill students home, driver still in hospital - WSMV Channel 4


Injured Pembroke Hill students home, driver still in hospital

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All of the 22 sixth-grade girls injured in a school bus accident Wednesday are out of the hospital.

The last four Pembroke Hill School students were released Thursday afternoon from the University of Kansas Hospital.

The 66-year-old driver remains hospitalized at Overland Park Regional Medical Center in serious but stable condition.

The last 24 hours have been difficult for the Pembroke family.

Counselors are at the school Thursday, talking with students in the wake of Wednesday afternoon's crash.

Students attended a special assembly, discussing what happened after 22 children were hurt when their school bus crashed just before 1 p.m., while they were en route to an overnight camp in Kansas.

The crash happened as the bus traveled on Kansas Highway 7 near Kansas Highway 32.

The Kansas Highway Patrol's preliminary report says when the bus went off the road, the driver applied the brakes and tried to steer back onto the highway, but the back of the bus slid sideways down an embankment and overturned.

KCTV5 has a request in to get that bus' inspection report. The bus driver has a spotless driving record.

The Kansas Department of Transportation has previously reviewed the ramp from K7 to K32, but Wednesday's crash will prompt a revived look. The state will decide whether a guardrail should be added to the stretch of highway.

Accidents on the southbound ramp are common, area business owners tell KCTV5.

"There's been accident after accident over there," according to Willie Wagner of Wagner Auto. "If you drop off, there's no edge to really get you back on."

He said it's even worse when there is rain, snow or ice. Wednesday was a sunny, clear day.

"There's never been anything as bad as a bunch of kids getting hurt," Wagner said. "We've taken people out of cars that have been hurt over there."

A year ago, KDOT reviewed crash data and made several changes as a result. This included resurfacing the ramp pavement, adding arrow signs, as well as additional signs directing drivers through the ramp.

In the wake of the Pembroke crash, KDOT plans another review "to determine if possible installation of guardrail or other treatments would be warranted along the ramp."

Between 2013 and 2010, 32 crashes occurred at the interchange. None were fatal, while 8 saw injuries. Altogether, 10 people have been injured in crashes in the past 3 years at this interchange.

Guardrails might not have stopped a school bus or truck from toppling over, and sometimes can cause more injuries, according to KDOT.

Wagner hopes that KDOT adds a guardrail.

"I think a guardrail would help tremendously," he said.

Here is KDOT's statement in its entirety:

In summer 2012, the Kansas Department of Transportation engineering staff conducted a review of the crash data (see attached crash report) on the southbound K-7 to K-32 exit ramp in Wyandotte County. At that time, KDOT implemented several recommended changes on the ramp, including resurfacing of the ramp pavement, the addition of chevron (arrow) signs as well as other additional ramp signing to direct drivers through the ramp movement.

KDOT engineering staff will review updated crash data to determine if the possible installation of guardrail or other treatments would be warranted along the ramp.

Guardrails reduce the likelihood of vehicles veering off the roadway into oncoming traffic, crashing against solid objects or other roadside features. A secondary objective is keeping the vehicle upright when impacting the guardrail. The problem with this is that a guardrail of the optimum height for a car might not keep a truck or school bus from toppling over it, while a motorbike might slip under a higher rail.

Standard guardrail is not designed for high center of gravity semitrailer trucks and busses. In addition to the initial cost and long-term maintenance, guardrail is an obstacle itself. Guardrail is effectively one strong band that transfers the force of the vehicle to multiple posts beyond the impact area or into a ground anchor at the end of the guardrail. Newer concrete barriers, while usually strong enough to withstand direct hits by cars, still work on a similar principle in deflecting heavier vehicles such as trucks.

Though they have usually prevented far more serious crashes, guardrails have frequently ranked as among the highest sources of injury and fatality in a fixed-object crash.

As a result, the use of guardrail is limited, because longitudinal barriers, which include guardrail, should only be placed when the roadside conditions pose a greater risk than the guardrail itself. In fact, in the hierarchy of five roadside safety treatments, shielding with guardrails ranks fourth.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved. 

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