School bus crashes after wild ride through Auburn yards, fences

Child, driver taken to the hospital as precautionary measure
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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A child on her way to school and a school bus driver were sent on a wild ride in North Auburn when the driver blacked out and the bus went off Bell Road on a slow-motion downhill descent through yards and fences before crashing in a driveway.

Authorities said that the driver and the girl - who had just been picked up at a Tahoe Street bus stop - were uninjured but were taken to the hospital by ambulances as a precautionary measure.

The Durham Transportation bus ended up on its four wheels but leaning toward the driver's side in the Country Meadows Court driveway of Tom and Michele McEntee.

The couple heard the final crash from the other side of the side wall of their house and went out to find a dazed bus driver, a frightened child and a giant school bus lodged against an embankment.

The girl, who looked as if she was in the 1st or 2nd grade, was screaming and crying, Michele McEntee said. The girl's mother had followed the bus and was able to comfort the child before the girl left in the ambulance, she said. The driver, a man likely in his 50s, sat on the ground until he too was taken away by ambulance.

The driver said that he had felt dizzy and then couldn't remember what happened after that, the California Highway Patrol reported. Durham Transportation officials at the scene referred questions to its corporate offices.

The bus holds up to an estimated 50 occupants. Looking at a splintered utility pole and shattered fences, Ira Breeder - who lives across Bell Road from where the crash occurred - said the bus was not going very fast as it went down the road and crashed through three fences, moved across two yards and barrelled through raised garden beds before coming to rest on an embankment next to the McEntee house.

Tom McEntee said the crash occurred just after the girl had been picked up at the Tahoe Street stop, the first of many stops that would have eventually added many more children to the bus.

"It was unbelievable," Michele said. "Luckily there were no other kids."