CRAIG COUNTY, Okla. - A school bus crash in Craig County Tuesday morning saw Bluejacket students transported to area hospitals for evaluations and treatment. Two of the injured left by ambulance, the first a 12-year old female suffering a broken femur and the second a 15-year old male with unspecified leg injuries. Both students are residents of Vinita and reported as being received and treated in good condition.
A report from the Oklahoma Department of Safety (DPS) outlines there were 16 students on board ranging in ages from 6-15 when the bus veered off the road. The bus ended up in a ditch, striking a tree near 4390 north of 190 and sustaining significant damage. In spite of the impact, most students were picked up at the scene, only having sustained “minor scrapes and bruises,” said Morris Bluejacket, Craig County Emergency Manager.
Following the accident, the driver, 42-year old Donald Stoner, of Bluejacket, told Oklahoma Highway Patrol Troopers at the site that he had succumbed to a coughing fit while driving, which caused him to lose consciousness and subsequently, control of the bus. Stoner was alert and able to communicate with emergency personnel when they arrived but made a visit by personal vehicle to the Saint Francis Vinita hospital for a checkup. The DPS accident report reveals Stoner was treated and released in good condition but did not provide details concerning possible injuries or courses of treatment.
According to annual Crash Facts data from the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO), there were 1,131 school bus crashes statewide between 2010-2015, none of which resulted in fatalities. Among those, four occurred in Craig County and 12 in Ottawa County.
In November, a fatal bus crash in Chattanooga claimed the lives of 5 children, rekindling a national debate concerning mandatory seat belt use on school buses. There is currently no federal mandate that requires children to wear seat belts on school buses and only six states that have laws that require them for passengers - California, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, New Jersey, and New York.