School bus safety in Lincoln County is becoming a big concern after a crash along KY-78 sent more than two dozen children to the hospital Wednesday morning.
State Police said bus driver Judy Asbery swerved her bus out of the way to avoid hitting another school bus which had stopped in traffic. They said Asbery’s bus collided with a pickup truck in the process.
An audit conducted by the Kentucky Department of Education on Lincoln County's transportation department three weeks ago, revealed that bus conditions were "inefficient" and maintenance was at a "marginal" level.
School officials admit the bus in Wednesday's crash was 20-years-old with more than 238,000 miles on it, but had passed an inspection on April 3.
They said 52 of the 68 buses in their fleet are typically used to drive kids to and from school. Others are used for field trips, sporting events and other activities.
The rest of the buses, like the one involved in the accident, are spares that are used when a regular bus is being repaired.
School officials said the regular bus was out of service because it was getting the seats repaired.
School officials said safety is the number one concern and the recent state audit really opened their eyes.
They said they made as many of the recommendations from the audit that they could but in order to hire two new maintenance workers and update the bus lift system, school board approval was needed.
The school board unanimously voted to approve those two things during a regularly scheduled meeting Thursday night.
School officials said Lincoln County is on a bus replacement plan to introduce new buses into the system throughout the next few years.
“Obviously we would not put a bus out on the road if we didn't deem it safe you're children my children it doesn't matter they’re all our children we want them to be provided the safest mode of transportation that we can,” said Robbie Deatherage, Chief Deputy of Support Services for Lincoln County Schools.
Superintendent Karen Hatter said the problems the audit highlight had nothing to do with Wednesday’s wreck.
“It was an accident and accidents happen, could have happened two weeks before the audit, could have happened last year,” said Hatter. “Every day I come in and I hope that a school bus is not involved in an accident.”
According to the school system, the bus driver, Judy Asbery, passed a background beck, is up-to-date with her training and she hasn’t gotten any complaints about her driving.
Asbery is on paid, administrative leave as police continue to investigate the crash.
Although none of the children on the school bus nor the bus driver were seriously hurt, we're told the driver of the pickup is still in critical condition, on life support, and in a coma.
We couldn't get our hands on asberys actual driving record but school officials say she's had a complete background check... is upto date with her training and they say they haven't had any complaints about her driving.
She is on paid administrative leave as police investigate the crash.