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Accident Report Detail

Preliminary Report - School Bus Fire

Executive Summary


On Tuesday, December 12, 2017, about 6:50 a.m. central standard time, a 2004 International school bus, occupied by a 74-year-old driver, was traveling southbound on 480th Street, a 24-foot-wide, two-lane gravel roadway near Oakland, in Pottawattamie County, Iowa. The driver turned to the right into a driveway in the 17000 block of 480th Street and picked up his first passenger, a 16-year-old student. As the bus backed out of the driveway, its right rear tandem wheels crossed a 3-foot-wide earthen strip adjacent to the roadway and dropped into a 3 foot deep ditch. Although still in contact with the ground, the right rear drive wheels lost traction, and the bus became stuck with about half of the vehicle positioned across the gravel roadway. The driver attempted to move the bus forward out of the ditch. As he was doing so, a fire began in the engine compartment and spread into the passenger compartment. Sometime during this event, the grass and vegetation at the rear of the school bus also caught fire. For unknown reasons, the driver and student passenger did not exit the school bus. Both occupants died as a result of the fire.

Probable Cause


The information in this report is preliminary and will be supplemented or corrected during the course of the investigation. Statement of probable cause will be provided in the final accident report.​

Accident Location: Oakland , IA    
Accident Date: 12/12/2017
Accident ID: HWY18MH003

Date Adopted: 1/26/2018
NTSB Number: HWY18MH003-Preliminary
NTIS Number: