Hot steam, liquid burns students' feet on Wake school bus
Posted May 16, 2012
Knightdale, N.C. — An equipment malfunction caused hot steam and liquid to spew into the passenger cab of a Wake County school bus in Knightdale Wednesday afternoon, burning the feet of more than a dozen children.
The bus was traveling on Knightdale Boulevard shortly before 3 p.m. when the bus driver noticed what appeared to be steam coming from underneath the bus, according to school system officials. A hot liquid also covered parts of the floor.
"We were just riding the bus and then steam went everywhere and smoke," said 12-year-old Lauren West. "Everybody started screaming and puddles of water filled the floor."
The driver pulled over, near the Hinton Boulevard intersection, and evacuated the bus. Some students panicked and scrambled to get out off the bus.
"I jumped out of the back window, out of the emergency exit, and the window slammed on my hand," Robinson said. "Everybody was going crazy – yelling, screaming, people jumped out of a regular window."
About 35 Wendell Middle School students were on board at the time. Fourteen suffered minor burns, redness and blisters on their feet from the heat, but no children were taken to the hospital.
School system officials said it appears that a belt ruptured on the bus, causing a leak, but they were still investigating what caused the malfunction.
Wake County schools spokesman Mike Charbonneau said the same bus underwent a full inspection and maintenance last week after it overheated.
At that time, the bus was deemed safe and operational.
"(The inspectors) ensure a bus is absolutely safe before they will put it back on the road," Charbonneau said.