April 9 – CHEYENNE – While students on an out-of-town school bus might have been in for a surprise when the vehicle hit a lamppost here on Friday afternoon, the good news is no one has been injured.
And the driver apparently did nothing wrong. Her drug test was negative and she was due back on her way home Friday night. During this time, students can continue to meet others from across the state who also have a common affinity for agriculture.
A Sweetwater County School District 2 bus was attempting to maneuver through a Frontier Mall parking lot with other vehicles when it collided with the side of a lamp post, SCSD2 officials told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle . They said the bus was not going fast, and one reason it could have had the collision is that the concrete housing the pole was askew as it had been hit earlier in a separate incident involving a lorry .
The students were in Cheyenne for the FFA’s annual state convention. The event took place this week at the Archer and Laramie County Community College event center, an FFA state official said. Now referred to exclusively by its acronym, FFA once stood for Future Farmers of America.
As for why the kids were at the mall, the answer may bring back memories of high school trips from years past. For a while at the convention, “they go to the mall so the kids can shop, eat at the food court” and the like, said Rachel Todd, transportation supervisor for the Sweetwater District. The mini-crash happened in the parking lot near the Shoe Carnival store in the 1400 block of Dell Range Boulevard, according to Cheyenne Police Department spokeswoman Alexandra Farkas.
Stacy Broda, state director of the Wyoming FFA Association, said a lot of positive things were happening during the convention. She said the rally drew some 1,200 attendees. Speakers at the event included Governor Mark Gordon, she said.
But vehicle collisions do happen. Laramie County School District 1 assisted its counterpart after the incident, according to officials from both districts. LCSD1 towed the broken down bus to local transportation facilities, according to LCSD1 transportation manager Adam Greenwood. Another school district that had room for displaced students “helped us out” because there was spare bus capacity, Sweetwater District’s Todd said.
“We went with our tow truck and towed the bus to our facility,” helping to avoid commercial towing charges, Greenwood said by phone. “I believe we will just hold it” in this place, he added. “It looks quite significant,” he said of the damage, which he had yet to personally see.
Todd said “the front quarter panel where the lights are located was peeled off” during the incident. Photos she provided to WTE showed the damage.
Todd, among others, stressed that the bus driver was not the subject of any criminal allegations, and the police spokesman said an investigation could continue. Another bus will take students home after they finish the convention, officials said. On Friday afternoon, this bus was en route to Cheyenne from SCSD2, which Todd estimated to be about 275 miles away.
“The driver did nothing wrong, there is no criminal activity, the students were very worried about the driver and they care very much about her,” SCSD2’s Todd said. “The driver was just trying to avoid the other buses” at the time of the accident, she continued. “It’s a bit in their blind spot, she was careful of the other buses, she was only going 8 km / h. No one was injured.”
LCSD1 notified the students’ parents locally of the incident, although none were involved in the accident. The district also said via email that “due to a statewide culminating event taking place in Cheyenne, you can expect to see more school buses in and around our area.”
Jonathan Make is associate editor of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and editor of the Wyoming Business Report. He can be reached at [email protected] or 307-633-3129. Follow him on Twitter @makejdm.