Personal Injury

New Jersey school bus hauling kindergartners loses brakes and crashes

A school bus carrying two kindergarten classes and six chaperones rolled backward down a steep hill and crashed in Montclair, New Jersey, Tuesday after losing its brakes. The incident sent three of the adults and two children to the hospital with injuries to the neck, knee, and contusions to the head.

The bus was taking 50 kindergartners to nearby Morristown, New Jersey, to see a performance of Charlotte’s Web at the Mayo Center. According to local authorities, the bus, driven by a 36-year-old Newark resident, was ascending the hill when the driver felt the brakes failing. Witnesses said the bus began to roll backwards, swerving back and forth and knocking over a utility pole and a fire hydrant. The bus then mounted a curb and crashed into an Acura SUV that had been traveling on the same road. The bus came to a stop against a tree in the front lawn of a private residence.

The driver of the SUV told the Montclair Patch that the bus lost some of its speed after striking her vehicle and probably would have crashed into a house otherwise.

The school system leased the bus from the Eagle Rock Bus Company in West Orange, New Jersey. The buses are inspected only twice each year, and the bus that crashed was due for an inspection on Friday. Eagle Rock leases 11 other school buses to nearby school districts.

The bus crash on Tuesday marks the second time in four months that a Montclair school bus lost its brakes and crashed. The other accident occurred in November and involved a busload of Montclair High School students traveling to a camp in Warren County, New Jersey, for a school outing. Several students were taken to local hospitals with injuries and some were held for observation. The bus carrying the high school students was also leased by the school district from Eagle Rock Bus Company.