Hurricane Ida: Shaler High School bus hit by 'wall of water' trapping 40 students

Officials said the incident 'was the result of flash flooding' and it could not have been avoided by the bus driver


                            Hurricane Ida: Shaler High School bus hit by 'wall of water' trapping 40 students
Rescue workers helping students out of the bus in Shaler Township (Twitter/@CherryCityFire)
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SHALER TOWNSHIP, PENNSYLVANIA: Hurricane Ida has caused destruction at every turn in various states. In Pennsylvania, 40 students and a driver had to be rescued when a school bus was overtaken by floodwaters in Shaler Township on Wednesday, September 1. The school bus stalled when water got into its air intake on the front right bumper. As it sat there, water started rising around it.

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As per news reports, torrential rain caused streams and creeks to overflow onto several roadways in the western part of the state, including Seavey Road in Shaler Township outside of Pittsburgh. “It got worse and worse, it was like a raging river,” witness Linda Reinhardt told WPXI-TV. “They described it as a wall of water coming down the hill.”

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Reinhardt, who was on her way to work as a nurse at the VA, stopped to help. As rescuers arrived, she described the current as dangerously strong. “The kids opened the back door and they were ready to get out and we had to tell them to stay until the boats got there,” she said.

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Following the rescue, the Shaler Township Police Department shared a statement on Facebook. It said that at 7:20 am, “All students who were on the school bus were evacuated to a safe area.” It added, “Road Closure: Seavey Rd is closed between Elbe Dr and Soose Rd due to roadway Flooding. Avoid this area.”


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“A lot of people were like screaming and stuff and I thought it was crazy because that’s never happened to me before,” Jason Vinski, a Shaler High School student told WPXI-TV, adding that the water was just getting higher and higher. “I looked out the window and I was thinking I could take a kayak out in it,” he said. Officials, however, said first responders had reported that the students on the bus were calm and attentive when it came to the rescuer’s instructions.

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Emergency responders with the Cherry City Volunteer Fire Department mounted a water rescue in order to evacuate all the passengers who were then taken to a safe area. The students were soaking wet. Though some left without their shoes, no injuries were reported. Following the rescue, the students were transported to school on other buses, where they were given warm clothes. 

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As per reports, no charges will be filed against the driver. The school district and ABC Transit reportedly conducted an internal investigation, alongside the police’s own investigation. Officials said the incident “was the result of flash flooding” and it could not have been avoided by the bus driver. “The bus driver had no time to react to the water rushing onto the road,” officials said. 

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This is not an isolated incident. In Maryland, first responders from the sheriff’s office and the Frederick County Department of Fire and Rescue Services used a boat to rescue ten children and a driver from a school bus caught in rising floodwaters on Wednesday afternoon. Frederick County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Todd Wivell said the school bus got stuck when it tried to cross a bridge in the Thurmont area that had water going across it.

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As per Wivell, even six inches of moving water is enough to knock a person off their feet. Frederick County Public Schools reportedly recalled all school buses that were in the process of dropping students off. Parents were asked to pick their kids up from school. Frederick County Public Schools Superintendent Terry Alban also apologized after facing criticism for not dismissing children early, saying the decision to remain open for a full day led to “stress and anxiety for many.”

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