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Accident Report Detail

Pattison Head Start Center School Van Run off Bridge and Fire

Executive Summary

About 7:25 a.m., on December 17, 1981, the driver of a 16-passenger Head Start school van, traveling southbound on a two-lane dirt road near Hermanville, Mississippi, lost control of the vehicle and ran off the right side of a one-lane wooden bridge. The roadway condition on the approach to the bridge was muddy as a result of rain, and there was a light rain at the time of the accident. The van fell about 9 1/2 feet onto a creek embankment and came to rest on its right side. A fire developed in the front engine compartment and, after burning for 11 to 13 minutes, spread through the interior of the van. Five of the 32 occupants of the van were killed and 11 persons were injured.

Probable Cause

‚ÄčThe National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the driver to stop and align the van with the bridge in the presence of adverse road conditions and an exaggerated steering maneuver that was further aggravated by the van tires striking the sides of the bridge running boards. Contributing to the accident was the lack of guardrails on the bridge. Possibly Contributing to the loss of life were the lack of precise Head Start occupant capacity guidelines which permitted an excessive number of passengers in the van, a lack of driver emergency training, and the limited availability of exits.

Accident Location: Hermanville , MS    
Accident Date: 12/17/1981
Accident ID: DCA82AH003

Date Adopted: 9/22/1982
NTSB Number: HAR-82-05
NTIS Number: PB82-916205

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