School bus crash had potential to be ‘mass casualty incident’

One Gateview Elementary student was injured and the others were transferred to another bus.
One Gateview Elementary student was injured and the others were transferred to another bus.
Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 10:01 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 28, 2023 at 6:10 PM CDT
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PORTLAND, Tenn. (WSMV) - Sumner County elementary school students had to be rescued on their way to class when their bus slid off the road and into a fence.

The school bus drove off New Deal Potts Road at low speed and crashed into a wooden fence near College Street around 6:50 Thursday morning, according to the Portland Police Department.

Sumner County EMS said the crash had the potential to be a very large mass casualty incident.

Neighbors heard the crash and ran to help the students off the bus, including Matthew McKim, who had just got out of the shower when the bus nearly ended up in his front yard.

“I opened (the emergency exit) up,” McKim said. “I have no shoes on, no shirt on, and I just start grabbing the kids out. Luckily everyone got out safe, got out good.”

Lauren Faro lives in the home where the bus hit the fence. She was driving to work when her daughter called her about the incident and sent her a photo of the crash. She said storms in the area created hail and dangerous driving conditions.

“We’re very lucky the bus hydroplaned where it hydroplaned,” Faro said.

If they had not reinforced the fence posts with nearly 80 pounds of concrete last year, Faro said the bus would have likely rolled over or gone head-on into two large trees. She said that would have been a horrific crash.

Her high school student, Logan Arnold, also jumped to help students get to safety. Faro and her daughter gave them towels and blankets to keep warm in the heavy rain.

“Our fence was destroyed, but I don’t care,” Faro said. “We got extremely lucky. I know there were a lot of parents who were upset this morning when they came to get their kids, but I am hoping by the end of the day they will realize that everything could have been far worse.”

Portland police officers closed the area to allow the 43 students onboard to be transferred onto another bus. One student was transported to Portland Medical Center for evaluation and has since been released. The other 42 students were safely taken to Gateview Elementary on another Sumner County school bus, Portland Police said.

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