Loose wheel sidelines school bus bound for Manitoulin Secondary

Michael Erskine

The Recorder

M’CHIGEENG—The text message from 15-year-old Colin Lloyd to his mother was one that would startle any parent. “I just about died,” read the text, according to his father Greg Lloyd. The text filled in more detail in typically maddening teenaged fashion. “A wheel or something fell off the bus—gotta go to class now.”

Despite the deadpan exchange, Mr. Lloyd said that his son later admitted that, for a while, his adrenaline was “rushing like crazy.”

The short body AJ Bus Lines school bus was transporting about 14 students when a wheel came loose and detached from the vehicle. According to the executive director of the Sudbury Student Services Consortium, Renée Boucher, the driver was alerted to the impending issue by a sudden increase in vibrations and immediately steered the bus to a safe landing on the shoulder of Highway 540.

“The driver handled the situation quite nicely,” said Ms. Boucher. “He did a wonderful job.”

The Sudbury Student Services Consortium handles transportation for Sudbury’s four school boards, including the Rainbow District School Board, of which Manitoulin is a part.

According to an investigation of the incident by the consortium, the bus in question had just recently had its tires replaced and was due to go into the shop for a retorquing of its wheel bolts immediately following the morning delivery of students to Manitoulin Secondary School.

“Thankfully there were no injuries,” said Ms. Boucher. Although an ambulance was on site and had assisted by placing warning signals on the road to alert drivers, emergency services had not been contacted to attend the scene—the ambulance had arrived on the scene simply by happenstance.

The school bus driver followed consortium and board protocols above and beyond, noted Ms. Boucher. “In situations such as these, where there are no injuries, the driver contacts his dispatch. The dispatch then contacts the police or ambulance services as required,” she said. “In this case the driver also contacted the school to let them know what was happening.”

The school then gives the consortium a list of contact numbers for the students and the consortium contacts parents and guardians to alert them to the incident. “In this case we left a lot of messages on people’s answering machines for them when they get home,” said Ms. Boucher. “If this had been a more serious incident, such as any injuries or trauma, we would have made every effort to contact the student’s parents or guardians. As it was, it was just an incident and not an accident.”

Ms. Boucher agreed that it is pretty difficult to compete with the speed of a student’s tweet or text. “We are fast, but we are not that fast,” she said. “We are all very pleased that everything is fine.”

Police and investigators from the Ministry of Transportation were on site this morning.