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School bus hits beam, keeps going; 9 students suffer minor injuries

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Updated: June 17, 2014 2:28PM



Nine Chicago Public Schools students were taken to hospitals with minor injuries Thursday morning after their school bus sideswiped a metal support beam on their way to school, according to Chicago Police.

But the driver apparently didn’t report the accident right away, said the father of one of the children aboard.

The students were riding to A.N. Pritzker School, 2009 W. Schiller, when the accident happened, parent Vladimir Uzelac said.

The bus was westbound on Lake Street when it sideswiped a CTA support beam while turning north onto Damen Avenue at 9:15 a.m., police News Affairs Officer Jose Estrada said.

The bus driver drove to the school and dropped off the children, Estrada said. School officials called 911 to report the accident and request medical attention for the students.

Uzelac said his daughter told him the driver kept going after hitting the beam but didn’t immediately tell anyone at the school about the incident. When school officials learned what happened, they took action, pulling her from her Spanish class and putting her and the other children into ambulances. Her parents were called after 10 a.m., Uzelac said.

“It was strange that they didn’t report it right when it happened,” said the father of a first-grader, upset about the delay.

The children were taken to hospitals as a precaution, some with minor injuries, Estrada said. All have been released, said Chicago Public Schools spokesman Joel Hood.

Hood said the driver reported the incident to his bus company within 60 minutes of the accident, as required by their contract with CPS. The driver must also submit to a drug and alcohol test if any passengers go to the hospital.

This particular driver has been suspended pending an investigation, according to CPS.

“School officials took the appropriate steps to ensure the well-being of all students and properly notified their parents,” Hood said in an emailed statement.

Police said the driver was not expected to be cited in the incident.

The bus wasn’t being operated by its usual driver, said Uzelac, who accompanies his daughter to her stop every day.

Uzelac said his daughter chose to return to school after her trip to the hospital. She wasn’t badly injured.

“She said her neck kind of snapped a little bit,” Uzelac said. “She was jostled back and forth. Hopefully there isn’t any kind of whiplash. I don’t know how hard he hit.”

Email: lfitzpatrick@suntimes.com

Twitter: @bylaurenfitz



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