South Sound News

School bus hit by railroad crossing arm, drives over tracks ahead of train, video shows

ELMA, Wash. — Video of a railroad crossing arm striking a school bus is making the rounds on social media.

The bus driver proceeded to drive over the tracks ahead of the train.

"It's terrifying, actually. That's actually terrifying,” said Christine Miller, a grandparent. “She's endangering children's lives."

No one was hurt, but the incident is under investigation.

"There certainly is difficulty in seeing up the tracks, but I'm not going to get in the details of it until we're done with the investigation,” said Elma School District Superintendent Kevin Acuff.

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Acuff said the woman behind the wheel has been a bus driver for 37 years. She was driving with elementary school students on board Tuesday.

The cellphone video shows red railroad crossing lights flashing as the bus drives over the tracks.

"Student safety is always our primary concern,” Acuff said. "We contacted each parent (of a child) who was on the bus by phone."

State law requires bus drivers stop, open the door and check for trains before crossing railroad tracks.

"It was determined that she did stop and was clearing the tracks before proceeding over them,” said Elma police Chief Susan Shultz.

Acuff said the train was traveling at "an extremely slow speed" and the bus driver immediately notified the bus garage after the close call.

Police plan to review the video and reenact the situation to figure out how the incident happened.

"You don't actually know what's going on until you see all aspects of it, so that's what the police department is doing right now, is try to get a look at all sides, including the bus driver’s,” Shultz said.

The bus driver has been reassigned during the investigation to the role of bus monitor.