No serious injuries in Gifford school bus collision with semi
GIFFORD — About three dozen Gifford grade school students had a later class start Thursday morning after their school bus was involved in an accident about 2 miles east of town.
No serious injuries were reported and the children were taken off that bus and driven to school on another bus.
Champaign County sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Coile said about 8 a.m., a semi pulling a grain wagon was headed west on County Road 2900 N approaching 2546 and a Gifford school bus was behind it.
Coile said the driver of the semi, Justin R. Thompson, of rural Fithian, was unfamiliar with where he needed to turn into the field since it was his first time there.
“He had slowed and pulled to the right to get enough room to turn into the field and didn’t see the bus behind him. He failed to signal that he was turning left into the field,” Coile said.
“The bus driver believed the semi was pulling on to the shoulder to allow him to pass so the bus went to pass on the left and the semi turned left into the side of the bus,” Coile said.
Coile said school district officials sent another bus to the accident site to bring the 33 students to the grade school.
Gifford Grade School Superintendent Rod Grimsley said the students were checked by emergency medical technicians and their parents notified.
He said all were fine and went to class afterward.
“It was a very minor accident; hardly any speed involved at all,” Grimsley said.
No one had to go to a hospital, Coile said.
The bus driver was identified as Gary D. Frerichs of rural Penfield.
Thompson was given a traffic ticket for failing to signal his turn into the field.
Coile estimated damage to the bus at $3,000 to $4,000.