The Herald Bulletin

November 23, 2013

Bus put out of service after hose leak

Inspection uncovers rupture near heater box

By Zach Osowski
The Herald Bulletin

---- — PENDLETON — The school bus with a ruptured antifreeze line that sent one student to the hospital last week has been taken out of service.

Bus No. 23, which carries Maple Ridge Elementary School children, is no longer in service after an inspection by Indiana State Police on Monday.

"It's been taken out of service until we can fix it," said Mark Matlock, director of support services for South Madison Community Schools.

On Nov. 15, an antifreeze line connected to a heating box under a seat ruptured, burning a fifth-grader's leg and flooding the bus floor. The students were evacuated from the bus, and no one else suffered any burns.

Matlock said the inspection showed the hose had warped just before it entered the heater box under a seat. Usually the hoses run along the side of the bus and are covered in case they do rupture. Matlock said the hose blew in the one spot it wasn't covered up.

"I've never seen anything like that happen since I've been here," Matlock said. "It was a first for our mechanic, too."

Matlock said the bus will be repaired and then put back into service. It was unclear what caused the rupture. Matlock said it could have been a number of things, including old age.

Bus 23 was commissioned in 2008, which puts it less than halfway through its life. Matlock said their buses typically have a 12-year life cycle.

"We've had hoses on buses last for the whole 12 years," Matlock said. "This was an isolated incident; they always are."

The buses are inspected by state police in the spring. Because of a decrease in the number of inspectors, Matlock said a third of their buses are checked in February, March and April. Bus 23 was inspected on March 11 and received clearance.

Of the 46 South Madison Community buses inspected this year, 76 percent were approved, with 15 percent ordered to be repaired and 9 percent ordered out of service.

Matlock said there a lot of things that can contribute to a bus not passing an inspection. Some of the reasons for failure for South Madison ranged from the simple — like a turn signal not working — to more complicated fixes, such as a brake line being chafed or cracked.

Regardless, Matlock said 76 percent is not where the corporation wants to be.

"We certainly hope to improve on that," he said. "We'd like to be in the 100 percentile, and we think we can get there."

No additional ailments of students on the bus had been brought to Matlock's attention.

Maple Ridge's Principal John Lord said after the incident every child on the bus was checked by EMTs at the school. The child who was taken to Wishard Memorial Hospital for burns to the legs was released later the same day.

Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB or call 640-4847.

Inspection grades from corporations in Madison County School Corporation Total Buses Inspected Percentage of Buses Approved Anderson Community 153 68 percent Alexandria Community 23 30 percent Elwood Community 23 100 percent Frankton-Lapel Community 50 92 percent Liberty Christian School 3 67 percent Anderson Prep. Academy 3 100 percent Madison-Grant United 26 77 percent