Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

May 18, 2012

School bus driver cited for leaving the scene

CROSSVILLE — A Cumberland County school bus driver was given a summons to court and, according to unconfirmed reports, is no longer employed as a driver, after the bus she was driving with 63 persons on board struck a concrete guard rail and then continued on its way.

Rhonda Sanders, 51, of 4093 Bud Tanner Rd., is charged with misdemeanor leaving the scene of an accident, following the crash that occurred on Cabin Dr. that travels through Cumberland Mountain State Park last Thursday around 2:15 p.m.

According to Crossville Police Ptl. Jonathan O'Neal's report, Sanders was driving the 1999 Bluebird school bus and was attempting a turn when the bus struck a concrete bridge railing. There were three teachers, one adult chaperone and 58 students on the bus.

Witnesses stated the driver did not check on the students to see if any were injured, and commented as she continued on the trip that she would, "fill out a report when we get back." State law requires that all school bus accidents be investigated by law enforcement.

Instead of notifying police and remaining on the scene, Sanders drove the bus to Stone Elementary where students were let off the bus, and then drove to the school bus garage on Genesis Rd. where she changed buses, returned to Stone and picked up students to deliver them home.

One of the adults reported that the impact was enough to throw her into the seat in front of her. While none of the students complained of injury while en route to Stone Elementary, a few advised they had "hit their heads" when the crash occurred.

Those students were attended to by the school nurse. The report adds that several students were taken to be checked out "at various places" by their parents.

O'Neal wrote in his report that he met Sanders at the bus shop when she completed her afternoon round, and that Sanders told him that she had attended in-service training during which drivers were told never to leave the scene of an accident.

Sanders added that she left the scene to get the children out of harm's way.

Schools Transportation Director Lane McAnnally this week said he could not comment on the incident, referring questions to schools human resource director John Saylors, who was out of the office yesterday.

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