Woman in critical condition after being hit by school bus

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SALT LAKE CITY - A woman crossing the street near 1700 South Redwood Road was seriously hurt when she was hit by a school bus Tuesday. The accident happened around 7 a.m., just minutes after the driver pulled out of the Salt Lake City School District bus yard.

Paulene Hansen was walking a few steps behind the woman who was struck. The two women were crossing Redwood Road, going west, in a crosswalk at 1700 South. Hansen said they had the crossing signal, but that the bus driver making a left-hand turn on to Redwood Road also had a green light.

Hansen said, "She [the victim] saw the bus, and she tried to outrun the bus to get past it so she wouldn't get hit. And when she noticed she was going to get hit, she put her hands up in front of her face."

Hansen watched as the 33-year-old woman was struck by the bus and thrown about 40 feet. She said the bus driver immediately stopped and ran to her side.

It was really scary. I was shaking, shaking really bad.

–Paulene Hansen, witness

"[She] sat on the ground next to her and had her hand on her to indicate that she was there and that someone was there with her," Hansen said.

According to the school district, this was the second time in three years that a district bus was involved an accident in this intersection. An elderly man was hit and thrown several feet as a school bus was turning left. The driver didn't see the man.

Salt Lake City School District spokesman Jason Olsen said, "I know the bus drivers are told specifically about this intersection because it is dark, there is not a lot of lighting here, and they're also just starting off the day."

Hansen also said this intersection was a trouble spot, but said what happened Tuesday was simply an accident.

She said, "She [the bus driver] didn't see her because there's not a lot of light illuminating the area and her mirrors were in the way like a blind spot."

The school district said the driver of the bus has at least four years of driving experience with the district and this was the first accident she has ever been in.

She has been drug tested and placed on administrative leave, which is typical while an investigation is underway.

As part of the investigation, the Utah Highway Patrol inspected the bus to make sure everything was working properly. During the inspection, an issue with the power steering was discovered, but troopers said it was not a factor in the crash.

Utah Highway Patrol James Miller said, "It was a power-steering leak, and under state school bus standards that's an out of service condition, so that was a pre-existing condition on the school bus."'

Troopers said the bus is out of service for the time being because of the power steering issue. The district said the bus was inspected two weeks ago and passed.


Story compiled with contributions from Shara Park , Anne Forester and Randall Jeppesen

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