Rescue crews on scene after school bus flips over - KCTV5


Man faces charges in connection to school bus wreck

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The Jackson County prosecutor charged 33-year-old Toryne M. Sanders in connection to Thursday's school bus crash.

Sanders faces a felony count of leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident with injuries and another count of driving with a revoked license.

He was taken by ambulance from his father's house at 72nd Street and Bales Avenue just before 8 p.m. Thursday, more than three hours after and only six blocks from the site of the wreck.

According to court documents, while at the hospital Sanders "spontaneously uttered to the officer, 'I did not mean to hit that bus. I got four kids. I do not want to hurt any kids.'"

The students on board the school bus that flipped over on its side during the crash managed to avoid serious injury Thursday afternoon.

At least one adult was injured in the crash between the school bus and one other vehicle. Police said the driver of a red passenger car ran a stop sign and collided with the bus. Authorities said the driver who caused the crash fled on foot, and police launched a massive search to find him. The search lasted about three hours.

The First Student bus was transporting five Kansas City School District students, a bus driver and a bus monitor when the crash happened about 4:45 p.m. The crash occurred in a residential neighborhood at 67th Street and Askew Avenue.

The force of the crash left the bus on its side. The red passenger vehicle, whose front end was smashed, came to rest on a nearby sidewalk.

"Roger ran over there and I got on the phone with 911 and said, 'get some people out here, I mean big time,'" witness Donald Davidson said.

Davidson saw the bus flip and several people ran to help.

An official with Kansas City Public Schools said five students from Success Academy at Knotts - an alternative elementary school that serves grades K-6 - were on the bus at the time, but none were seriously injured. All students were treated at the scene.

"One had a little cut. The rest of them, they were pretty cool. One of them was a little hysterical but, other than that, it was pretty all right," witness Ricardo Herron said.

Lashiran Whitmire was on board. She crawled out with just a scratch and her heart racing.

"I thought I was going to die. I was so scared," she said.

Makwon James, 7, left with an inflated surgical glove standing in for a balloon. He suffered the worst injury and needed a stitch or two for a cut on his head. The doctor also told his parents he could have a concussion.

"The bus flipped twice and I got a cut," Makwon said.

"I'm just glad and thank God that all the kids are OK, because that's a force of ... to turn a bus over with one car," his dad, Malcolm James said. "He (Makwon) was very extra sleepy, his eyes were pretty red and droopy."

Witnesses said the driver of the red car appeared injured but didn't stick around to see if the children were OK.

"Guy started going down the street and one guy tried to stop him, and he went down the street and left a trail of red down there," Davidson said.

Police had a chopper and police dog searching for almost two hours and didn't find him.

Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Stephen Green arrived as soon as he heard the news. He said he's thankful those on the bus weren't more seriously hurt.

"Considering the circumstances, unfortunately we had the accident, but the good news is that the five students who were on the bus and the adults - the bus monitor and the bus driver - emerged safely from this," he said. "The one student had a scratch over his eye and one stitch was required, but that was very minor."

Green said school officials were taking students home whose parents were not able to come to the scene and pick them up directly.

Police said Sanders' family called for an ambulance after he arrived home with serious head and chest injuries. His father said it was the bus that had the stop sign and said his son wasn't trying to escape anything, but had been wandering, disoriented for hours.

The suspect's father said his son suffered a serious head injury and collapsed lung in the crash, which required medical treatment.

The man's family called a bail bondsman after he arrived home. The bondsman called for an ambulance once he saw the extent of the man's injuries.

Court records also said that, while later being interviewed by police, Sanders told them he had been working on a house with his father prior to the wreck. A female friend showed up at the house and some sort of a disturbance took place.

Sanders told police he drove off from the house to try to get away from the woman. He acknowledged that he knew he was driving too fast for the residential neighborhood, but couldn't stop fast enough when he saw the school bus in front of him.

According to court records, he has seven prior convictions for driving with a revoked license and/or suspended license and seven previous convictions for operating a motor vehicle without a valid license.

Now knowing that record, Makwon's parents said Sanders needs to be held accountable for a situation that could have been much worse.

"All the kids could have gotten hurt really, really bad. But thank God, they walked away from it, with scrapes and bruises," Kathy James, Makwon's mom, said.

Prosecutors asked that Sanders' bond be set at $50,000, 10 percent.

Inspection records on the school bus show it was owned and operated by First Student and it passed all inspections and was approved with no defective items the past four years.

An experienced accident investigator told KCTV5 that, while accidents involving school buses look bad, school buses are very safe. The problem is they have a high center of mass relative to their wheel base so, if they are hit on the side, it's hard to keep them from flipping over.

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