Students burned after Durham charter school bus engine overheats

Posted February 9, 2015

— Four children suffered burns Monday afternoon after the rear engine of a Durham charter school bus overheated.

A coolant line burst on bus #7803 from The Institute for Development of Young Leaders, spraying hot antifreeze on students, Durham Fire Department spokesman Chris Iannuzzi said. The incident happened at Angier Avenue and Hoover Road as the bus was transporting students home.

All of the injured students suffered burns on their legs, said Christopher Edwards, chairman of the school's board of directors. Edwards said he believes the students suffered second-degree burns.

The students were initially taken to Duke University Hospital. One student was released but the remaining three were later transferred to the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals.

"It is our understanding that most of the injuries were sustained to the lower limbs and none were life-threatening," the school said in a letter to parents.

The West Club Boulevard school, which opened in 2013, serves grades K-5.

"We note that our transportation system has an impeccable record of safe transportation of children, and since this is the very first incident, we consider this an isolated circumstance that we will continue to investigate," the school said.

The bus was contracted, but Edwards would not identify the company.

School officials will have psychologists at the school on Tuesday for students and parents, the letter said. In addition, a forum is being organized to allow parents to discuss the incident and ask questions.

"We lastly ask that you keep the children involved and their parents in your prayers," the letter said. "We certainly wish them a speedy recovery."


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  • James Grimes Jr. Feb 10, 2015
    user avatar

    It seems the maintenance of the bus is in question.

  • Ann Ethridge Feb 10, 2015
    user avatar

    A hose burt on the bus, spraying the students with the hot liquid. It doesn't take a lot for antifreeze to burn you. I was hit by it when I was working on a car with my boyfriend and I heard the pressure building up, and jumped back & it still got me. Luckily, I had on long sleeves but it did burn. I hope they will be ok and the school will never hear the end of this.

  • Sharon Davis Feb 10, 2015
    user avatar

    I pray that they find the strength to repair or replace the defective parts on the transportation vehicle to prevent future injuries to our most value members of our society. This I pray.

  • Dean Morron Feb 10, 2015
    user avatar

    The story doesn't go into any major detail but I'll assume Mr. Holder that the children were sprayed with the hot coolant either exiting or waiting to enter the bus ? Just my thoughts on the matter as I know of no feasible way the coolant could have sprayed into the inside of the bus.

  • Donald Holder Feb 10, 2015
    user avatar

    I've never been on one of these rear engine buses. How did the hot antifreeze get inside the bus?