Nearly three dozen people suffered injuries when a charter bus transporting Virginia college students back to school at Virginia Tech and Radford University after Thanksgiving break overturned on a highway on ramp near Richmond. The crash, which also led to a car accident with injuries, hits particularly close to home for me as the parent of two Virginia Tech students who also knows how easily these types of wrecks can result in permanent physical disabilities and traumatic brain injuries. The accident occurred at the interchange between Powhite Parkway and Chippenham Parkway in Chesterfield County on the night of November 29, 2015.
Reports indicated that the bus driver was traveling too fast and lost control on the curve. One of the students aboard the bus sustained critical injuries, but most of the other victims suffered only cuts and bruises. In all, 34 people went to hospitals for medical treatment.
State police have charged the bus driver with reckless driving. They and regulators from the Virginia Department of Transportation have also opened an investigation into the charter bus company to learn if the driver received proper training, had adequate rest between shifts and underwent sufficient screening for health and drug and alcohol use. Maintenance records from the company will also be reviewed to check whether the bus was in good repair and equipped with all mandated safety gear.
Bus passengers and other people sharing the road with charter buses must be able to trust in the skill and care of bus operators. That trust must extend to both the bus driver and the company that rents the bus's services. Any betrayal of the trust, either through negligence or intent, must be identified and corrected.