Iowa school district settles in fatal 2017 school bus fire

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OAKLAND, Iowa (AP) — A western Iowa school district has agreed to pay an undisclosed amount in a settlement to the family of 16-year-old girl who died in a 2017 school bus fire that also killed the 74-year-old bus driver.

The Daily Nonpareil reported Thursday that Riverside Community School District reached the settlement with the family of Megan Klindt, who died when the bus became stuck in a ditch, leading to a fire in the engine compartment that spread to the passenger compartment. The fire also killed driver Donnie Hendricks.

Klindt's family sued for negligence and wrongful death in 2018, saying the school district knew Hendricks was in poor health and still allowed him to drive the bus. The settlement announcement came less than three weeks before trial in that lawsuit was scheduled to start March 3 in Pottawattamie County District Court.

An attorney for the school district, Brad Schroeder, declined to reveal the amount of the settlement, saying the details were confidential.

A report issued last year by the National Transportation Safety Board also faulted the school district for not ensuring Hendricks was medically fit before the crash. The report also found that tougher standards for school bus drivers and a fire suppression system could have prevented the deaths.

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