Bus driver Audie Woods was on his second-to-the-last stop on his route Monday morning when his 50J bus was struck from behind while picking up children along Highway 50 in North Delta.
The bus was rear-ended by Samuel R. Rascon of Hobbs, N.M., who suffered serious injuries in the accident. He is being treated at St. Mary's Medical Center in Grand Junction.
After impact, Woods and the 41 children on the bus were able to evacuate the bus through the front door. Woods said he didn't even have a chance to get his cell phone out before the first Delta Police Department officers arrived on the scene. They were followed quickly by ambulance personnel from both Delta and Olathe.
In total, the Delta Police Department reports, 15 children were seen by medical staff at Delta County Memorial Hospital for various minor injuries. All were released.
The bus was carrying students of all ages, from elementary to high school age. The uninjured students were taken to Bill Heddles Recreation Center. School officials contacted parents by phone, and several opted to pick up their children from there. The remaining students were loaded onto another bus and taken to school.
The accident occurred in the eastbound lane of Highway 50 shortly before 7:30 a.m.
Woods said he had stopped his bus, with the stop sign extended and lights flashing, to pick up three students from the side of the road. Two were on the bus and he was waiting for the third when the bus was hit from behind. His attention was on the students, so he never saw Rascon's pickup approaching.
Hospital CEO Jason Cleckler said Delta County Memorial Hospital was able to mobilize the needed resources in the emergency department to take care of the influx of patients and family members.
"Hospital employees are routinely trained for these types of multiple patient incidents," Cleckler said. "ER physicians and clinical staff worked closely with other community partners including EMS, law enforcement and school district representatives to assess and treat the children in a timely fashion. I commend our experienced ER staff for taking care of these children and keeping their parents informed quickly and professionally."
The DPD reports alcohol is not a suspected cause of the accident. The investigation continues; charges are pending.
On March 30, Samuel R. Rascon, 48, of Hobbs, New Mexico was issued a ticket for the alleged violations of: Drove Motor Vehicle while License Revoked, Failure to Yield to School Bus with Lights Activated and Careless Driving. Rascon is scheduled to make his first court appearance at 9 a.m. on May 17, in Delta County Court.
The Delta Police Department thanks the following agencies for their assistance, support and services during the initial incident and continuing investigation of this accident: Colorado State Patrol, Delta County Sheriff's Office, Colorado Department of Transportation, Delta Fire District, Delta County Ambulance District, Delta County Memorial Hospital, Bill Heddles Recreation Center, Delta County Joint School District 50J, Olathe Ambulance, Montrose Police Department, Care Flight and St. Mary's Medical Center.