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Accident Report Detail

School Bus Run-Off-Bridge Accident

Executive Summary

On Saturday, October 13, 2001, about 2:00 p.m. central daylight time, a 2000 Thomas Built Buses, Inc., 78-passenger school bus carrying 27 Seward High School students and 3 adults (excluding the driver) was traveling westbound through a work zone on U.S. Route 6 in Omaha, Nebraska. As the Seward bus entered the work zone lane shift at the approach to the West Papillion Creek Bridge, it encountered a 1986 Motor Coach Industries 52-passenger motorcoach carrying Norfolk High School students traveling eastbound. Although no collision occurred between the Norfolk and Seward buses, the westbound school bus departed the traveled roadway on the right and subsequently struck the W-beam barrier on the approach to the bridge, steered to the left momentarily, and then steered abruptly back to the right, striking the W-beam again and, finally, a three-rail barrier between the guardrail and the concrete bridge railing. The bus passed through the remains of the three-rail barrier, rode up onto the bridge’s sidewall, and rolled 270 degrees clockwise as it fell about 49 feet, landing on its left side in a 1-foot-deep creek below the bridge. Three students and one adult sustained fatal injuries. The remaining passengers and the busdriver sustained injuries ranging from serious to minor.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the Nebraska Department of Roads to recognize and correct the hazardous condition in the work zone created by the irregular geometry of the roadway, the narrow lane widths, and the speed limit. Contributing to the accident was the accident bus driver’s inability to maintain the bus within the lane due to the perceived or actual threat of a frontal collision with the approaching eastbound motorcoach and the accident bus driver’s unfamiliarity with the accident vehicle. Contributing to the severity of the accident was the failure of the traffic barrier system to redirect the accident vehicle.

Accident Location: Omaha , NE    
Accident Date: 10/13/2001
Accident ID: HWY02MH004

Date Adopted: 2/10/2004
NTSB Number: HAR-04-01
NTIS Number: PB2004-916201