Bus stuck on railroad tracks because of snow

By Amanda Porterfield | aporterfield@wcia.com, Betty Simpson | bsimpson@wcia.com

Published 01/09 2014 03:48PM

Updated 01/10 2014 09:59AM

Update: 10:02 pm
TRILLA -- Some parents are questioning the decision to run school buses after students faced a scary stop on the way to school. The bus was stuck just a few feet from a railroad track. WCIA-3's Amanda Porterfield hears from school officials and parents.

Most parents agreed, the district could have waited another day to hold school.

"I was worried if the bus would even make it here."

It's only a few miles outside the city, but residents say, when it comes to clearing roads, their streets are last on the list.

"I don't think they should have had school with the roads the way they are."

But, Jennifer Chupp says she didn't even consider the fact that buses here had to cross two sets of railroad tracks just to pick everybody up. Plus, she had no idea they almost didn't make it until she saw a picture and heard what happened from her 8-year old son.

"Some people came to help us, but it took awhile."

Mattoon Schools Superintendent Larry Lilly says the bus was stopped at the railroad tracks. The back wheels lost traction on a small hill and got stuck in the snow.

Devalan Adams says he and the other students sat near the tracks for 30 minutes. The whole time, he was keeping an eye on his little sister.

"Every minute or so I would look over and watch her."

"I was kind of disappointed because, usually they send a chain voice-mail letting you know of anything, any kind of situation. I was surprised they didn't let parents know."

Lilly says the district notified parents through Facebook and stands by his decision stating students were never in any real danger.

Tammy Young is a retired teacher and doesn't agree with the risk.

"We do have to put in 180 days in the school year. My theory is they are trying to get those days in. No one wants to stay any longer than they have to. But for safety reasons, still. Keep them home. It's going to warm up. The roads would have been clear."

But after being cooped up at home for days, kids were actually happy to get back to school.

"I was excited. We finally got through it."

Lilly says they handled the situation quickly by notifying the railroad company immediately making sure no trains were on the way.

Once the bus was stuck, people in town tried to help. One tow truck actually broke its line.

Lilly says they have a fleet of about 31 buses and this was the only one which had a problem. Despite the roads, there will most likely be school Friday.
Original: 3:48 pm
TRILLA -- A Mattoon school bus was stuck on railroad tracks Thursday morning because of winter weather conditions. The district's transportation director says neither the students nor the driver were ever in any danger.

Authorities say the bus stopped in front of the tracks, as required by law, but could not clear the tracks once it started crossing because of the incline and the rear tires getting stuck in the snow.

District leaders have rerouted that bus so it will not have to cross tracks again from that angle. It took about 30 minutes to free the bus which then proceeded onto the school.

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