The American Fork High School band traveled to Pocatello, Idaho, over the weekend to participate in a band competition, and they took first place. But their fun trip took a tragic turn on the return to Utah and their excitement over the win quickly faded.
A charter bus carrying about one fourth of the group rolled Saturday on Interstate 15 near McCammon, Idaho, about 140 miles north of Salt Lake City after the driver blacked out at the wheel. The hero of the day was a woodwind teacher who saw what was happening and dove for the steering wheel in an attempt to bring the bus back onto the road. Heather Christensen was able to grab the wheel but she was thrown through a window as the bus rolled and she died at the scene. Two students were life flighted and 12 were transported by ambulance with serious injuries, and an additional 30 students were taken to a Pocatello hospital with minor injuries.
The question is how did this happen and what could have been done to prevent it? Witnesses report that the bus driver had some sort of sudden stomach ache and that she blacked out as a result. Possible, of course, but odd. The Idaho State Police continues to investigate the accident. I hope they are looking into the type of medical screening the charter company conducts before putting drivers behind the wheel. And whether medical reviews are done routinely after divers are hired to ensure that they stay healthy enough to drive the busses safely. Also, what sort of stomach ache comes on so quickly and intensely that it causes a black out? Let’s hope that the coming days bring the answers to these questions and a quick recovery for those injured. In the meantime, our thoughts are with the Christensen family.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.