On Tuesday, December 12th, a school bus caught fire in front of a rural home near 480th Street and Elmtree Road southeast of Oakland, Iowa around 7 AM. The bus caught fire after the driver, Donald Hendricks, backed out of a student’s driveway and into a ditch. Only one child was on the bus– 16-year-old Megan Klindt, a high school student at Riverside School District. No other students were on board at the time of the fire.
Both the driver and student passed away in the fire. The first law enforcement officer on-scene attempted to open the rear-end emergency exit of the bus but was unable to do so before the flames became overwhelming. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Dr. Timothy Mitchell, Superintendent of the Riverside Community School District, released the following statement:
This morning, the Riverside Community School District suffered a tragedy when we lost a student and an employee in a school bus accident. Our hearts go out to their families and loved ones. The investigation into the cause of the accident is underway, and we are cooperating with law enforcement as they do their work. The safety of students and staff is the top priority for the District.
School is in session and a Crisis Team from the Green Hills Area Education Agency along with area schools counselors and many community volunteers have been deployed to all our buildings to assist students and staff. All afterschool activities for today have been cancelled and will be rescheduled.
Pottawattamie County Sheriff Department is handling the scene and will update the media later today. We will release more information as it becomes available to us.
The entire community of the Riverside Community School District is deeply sadden by the events of this morning. We would like to thank everyone who has offered assistance. Once again, our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who is impacted by this tragic event.
A community prayer vigil was held at Fellowship Church. Family and friends remembered both victims fondly and parents in the area are understandably feeling mixed emotions about the incident.
School bus accidents and fires of this nature are quite rare, but do happen occasionally. They can occur for various reasons.
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