A school bus crashes on Highway 6 Friday, November 19. Photo: FGF&R
Highway 6 was closed but reopened to one lane of traffic late Friday morning near mile marker 35 following a crash involving a school bus and a loose flatbed trailer, Forest Grove Fire & Rescue said.
According to Forest Grove Fire & Rescue, crews were first dispatched to the scene at 9:24 a.m. Friday. Upon arrival, they discovered a full-size school bus sideways on the highway, with damage to the vehicle’s rear axle.
The bus had collided with a loose flatbed trailer.
A preliminary Oregon State Police investigation described the incident.
Frank Rich, 64, of Otis, Ore., was driving a red 1999 Ford F550 truck on the Wilson River Highway, towing an unloaded flatbed trailer westbound. As he drove toward Tillamook, his trailer began to fishtail, and detached from the coupling fastening the truck to the trailer.
The trailer in question. Photo: Oregon State Police
Loosed from its bounds, the runaway trailer struck the eastbound school bus on the driver side rear axle, causing the bus to rotate, where it stopped moving in the eastbound ditch, against the embankment. The bus, operated by Steven Parks, 51, of Cloverdale, was blocking the highway at that point.
The Oregon State Police account of how many people were on the bus differed slightly from Forest Grove Fire and Rescue’s; OSP said 31 students and six adults were on the bus, with eight injured; Forest Grove Fire listed one less student and one more injured person.
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The truck driver was issued a citation for the operation of an unsafe vehicle.
“He did not have the correct coupling system for the trailer,” OSP said in a press release.
After triaging those involved in the crash, Forest Grove Fire & Recue determined that eight people were injured, with six of them eventually transported to local hospitals, none with life-threatening injuries.
The school bus involved was a Nestucca High School bus from the Nestucca Valley School District in Tillamook County. Forest Grove Fire & Rescue said that the bus, containing 30 high school students, one teacher, four parent chaperones and the bus driver, was headed east to Portland for a field trip.
“This morning, one of our high school classes was traveling by bus, on highway 6, for a field trip,” the Nestucca Valley School District said in a notice posted to their website. “A trailer from another vehicle, broke loose, and hit the school bus, causing an accident. All students, staff and chaperones where able to safely get off the bus, and some adults and children are being transported to hospitals for further examination.”
The district said that parents had been contacted directly if their child was involved, and that those with questions should call the high school.
“We are only able to share very limited information unless your child was directly involved,” the district said.
Once the scene had been brought under control, a new bus was dispatched to pick up the students, parents, and staff and returned to the Nestucca High School in Cloverdale.
The highway was blocked for around two hours, reopening to one lane of traffic around 11:30 a.m. Friday.
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The Oregon State Police is the lead investigating agency into the cause of the crash.
Also on scene were Metro West Ambulance, Banks Fire District, Oregon State Police, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, and the Oregon Department of Transportation.
This is a developing story and will be updated as information is confirmed.