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Safety Board Reconsidering School Bus Safety

By Associated Press

Huntsville, AL – From her window seat in a school bus packed with laughing classmates, LaWanda Jefferson spotted a passing orange car seconds before she felt herself hurled sideways. It struck the ground nose-first, about 30 feet below the I-565 overpass. Two teenage girls died in the wreckage; one other died later at a hospital, and a fourth student died from injuries today (Tuesday). The 16-year-old Jefferson, who suffered fractures to her arm, along with cuts and bruises, said her classmates were falling on each other and people were screaming, yelling and crying. More than 30 Lee High School students and the bus driver were taken to Huntsville Hospital, which became a hectic trauma center yesterday (Monday) morning. The National Transportation Safety Board, which will investigate the wreck, has said that school buses are designed to protect occupants without the use of seat belts. The agency said a new design uses strong, well-padded, high-backed seats, closely spaced together. However, N-T-S-B board member Debbie Hersman said at a news conference last night that the board last week added school bus safety to its list of most wanted transportation safety improvements. She said the board is recommending that new standards be devised to improve safety when buses are involved in rollover crashes.

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