Students riding on a Decatur ISD school bus had a narrow escape on Thursday afternoon when their bus drove over a rural bridge which collapsed beneath the vehicle. Wise County officials reported that they had received several phonecalls regarding the condition of the bridge throughout the day, but the crew responsible for shutting it down did not arrive until after the bridge collapsed. Fortunately, none of the children on the bus at the time of the accident were injured. Thanks to the quick thinking of the driver, Debbie Brady, the bus was quickly and safely evacuated, despite the bus slipping further into the growing hole in the road every minute.
As a Decatur personal injury lawyer, I would like to applaud the actions of Ms. Brady for keeping a cool head under crisis and for rescuing the bus load of kids from would otherwise surely have been a far worse disaster. Photos taken by emergency responders show that the bridge eventually collapsed completely beneath the weight of the four-ton bus, into the stream below. According to children on the bus, the rear of the vehicle was as much as eight feet in the air following the collapse, which meant it was necessary for them all to evacuate from the front doors of the bus.
Less than two weeks ago, it emerged that there are a total of 1,551 bridges throughout Texas which are considered structurally unsound by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Dangerous road conditions need to be addressed by the local authority in charge of their maintenance. Regardless of whether they are heavily-traveled ramps over major interstates or small single-lane bridges over rural creeks, if they are expected to carry cars, trucks and buses they must be regularly inspected and maintained to ensure that they are in fact safe to do so. Had circumstances been just slightly different, Thursday's incident could have been a dramatically worse tragedy.