2011-05-20 / Front Page

Bus Accident Brush-Off

By Howard Schwach

A dozen third-graders spent the day sitting in their classroom at a Rockaway public school, aching with cuts, bruises, and whiplash after their school bus hit a pole and then a brick wall earlier in the day and their assistant principal refused to believe their stories about the crash, parents charge.

According to the parents, many of them spent hours at Peninsula Hospital Center with their injured children on Monday afternoon, after being informed of the accident by their children. Parents say that a school bus was bringing the dozen students to PS 42 on Beach 66 Street on Monday morning when the bus hit a pole at Beach 62 Street and Beach Channel Drive.

“It hit the pole hard,” one third-grader told reporters. “It made a loud noise and I hit my head on the seat in front of me and then fell on the floor of the bus.” Students reported that the bus driver, attempting to back up from the pole, drove right into a brick wall on the other side of the street.”

After the two crashes, the driver took the children to school and then pulled away without reporting the accident, parents say. When the students told an unidentified assistant principal about the accident, she chose to not believe them.

“That’s too hard to believe,” the AP reportedly told the students, ordering them to class.

Parents are upset because the driver did not report the accident and school officials did not believe the students even when they displayed the cuts and bruises they received in the crash.

“They never reported the accident to me,” one parent said. “When my child came home, he told me about it and I took him to the emergency room, where we spent three hours. It turned out that he had whiplash and a mild concussion and he sat in class all day with that condition. That’s dangerous, and somebody should be punished.” School officials declined to comment on the incident.

A Department of Education spokesperson said that the incident was “under investigation.”

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