Nine students injured in New Orleans school bus crash; driver did not have permit

NOLA bus crash

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Nine students were injured Wednesday morning after a school bus crash on I-10 near the High Rise.

NOPD reported that the bus overturned in the westbound lanes around 7:30 a.m. causing traffic to be diverted to Louisa Street and Chef Menteur Highway.

All of the injured students were released from the hospital late in the afternoon.

“We can confirm that 15 students from James Singleton Charter School and one driver were on the bus at the time of the accident. Nine students were taken to two local hospitals – six to University Medical Center and three to Children’s Hospital. At this time all but two students have been discharged from the hospitals. School officials confirm five students were picked up at the scene by their guardians following communication from James Singleton Charter School’s principal alerting parents to the accident. It has also been reported to the District that those five students have been taken to Children’s Hospital by their parents and are currently being evaluated," the New Orleans Public Schools System said.

The driver of the bus, Chad Rodney, refused medical treatment at the scene.

Earlier today parents picked up their children from James Singleton Charter School. Many say they were thinking of the 15 children who were on board - 9 of which were sent to area hospitals for injuries.

The CEO of the school’s charter Douglas Evans says all children are now home safe, which means they’re turning their attention to figuring out how this happened.

Evans says Rodney did pass paperwork and background checks this afternoon they did additional checks on the buses and drivers taking the children home from school today. The city maintains there’s no reason Rodney should have been driving a bus full of school children.

“I’ll be working with the bus company school district city to see how we tighten all of this up and make sure this never happens again,” Douglas Evans, CEO of James Singleton Charter, said.

The city’s Director of Safety and Permits Zachary Smith says Chad Rodney, the driver, should not have been driving when the crash happened. They denied Rodney’s application in September because of a 2016 drug conviction. The bus was not in compliance either.

“The driver’s awareness that he was not permitted to drive in Orleans Parish is absolute, so this wasn’t and I didn’t know the rules,” Evans said.

The bus driver was cited for Careless Operation of a Motor Vehicle and Equipment Violation. He was also issued a municipal summons for Proper Certificate Required, General Inspection Required, 162-1823, School Bus Inspection Required, and School Bus Driver Permit Required, according to NOPD report.

The bus, which is owned by Hammond Transportation, has not been inspected since new regulations issued by the City went into place. The company failed to bring the bus to the mandatory inspection.

City Councilman Jay Banks says his office will also be working to see if there’s anything they can do on a city level to add to the city code. The Department of Safety and Permits says they’ve also struggled with bringing the bus company Hammond Transportation into compliance.

Zachary Smith says only an estimated 40 percent of Hammond’s 125 busses are properly permitted.

Parent Solomon Chishom was going to pick up his two children at James Singleton Charter School because they had missed the bus this morning.

“I said you know what I’m gonna take them I was running late I took them and that was it," Chishom said. “This could’ve been us and those were my exact words."

The Orleans Parish school board issued a statement saying they are working to determine the cause of the bus accident and how many schools use Hammond Transportation buses. FOX 8 reached out to Hammond Transportation for comment but has not heard back.

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