School bus hit by speeding car


Sam Singer, Staff Writer

“Turning around to see a car with a crushed hood and a motor up in smoke before being carted off to the hospital was certainly a crazy way to start my Monday morning,” Emily Marks (11) said.

11 students were taken to Saint Joseph’s Medical Center early Monday morning as a result of a currently unidentified Kia driver rear-ending a Scarsdale bus above the speed limit on the Cross County Parkway. While there were no injuries, one student had a headache and multiple felt carsick after the accident.

The bus, chartered by Scarsdale Union Free School District (SUFSD), provides transportation to Scarsdale residents who attend Riverdale schools free of charge, Supervisor of Transportation for SUFSD Gerson Katuemutima said.

Marks became aware of the collision around 7:54 am when the bus jolted forward and suddenly applied the brakes, she said. “The bus slowed down and pulled over and that’s when I knew that we were in an accident.”

After the collision, SUFSD bus driver Jean Emile called 911 to seek emergency healthcare for himself and the students on the bus, Emile said. The trip to the hospital seemed sensible to Emile, even if there were no major injuries immediately after the accident, he said.

Yonkers police and first responders arrived and asked the bus to proceed to the local Saint Joseph’s Medical Center. “We couldn’t refuse medical care as minors, and Jean also elected to go to the hospital, so the cops instructed the bus to drive directly to the hospital,” Marks said.

Almost immediately after students arrived at the hospital, Head of School Dr. Thomas Kelly arrived along with the Head of the Lower Division Deena Neuwirth and Director of Transportation Robert Forcelli, Ishaan Kannan (12) said.

Kelly’s visit to the hospital was in accordance with school protocol for accidents and bus incidents, he said. “Any bus incident triggers a call to Mr. Forcelli and, in turn, Mr. Forcelli calls me and the Public Safety Officer on duty,” Kelly said. “Depending on what is shared, different actions are called for. Monday, for example, warranted Mr. Forcelli, Mrs. Neuwirth and I taking a trip to the ER to confirm that all was well and to assist with getting students to HM.”

“We knew that the students were going to be in the ER by themselves, and wanted to make sure that they were okay and relieve any anxiety that they may have had,” Forcelli said. Because of Horace Mann transportation and aid at the hospital, students arrived at school by 11:30 on morning day of the crash, he said.

A group of parents of students on Scarsdale buses are writing a letter to the SUFSD Board of Education to express frustration with the Scarsdale bus system.“The responsibility was entirely on the kids to reach out to the school, their parents, and get help for themselves, which is simply unacceptable and not the case with other bus companies,” one parent, who requested to remain anonymous, said.

Emile told students on the bus to put on their seat belts after the accident occurred but before the police arrived to inspect the bus, another anonymous parent said.

“The district is under pressure from the law as well as both our students and drivers,” Katuemutima said. “We are working to balance a lot and ask that parents consider the years of seamless transportation they have experienced instead of this one accident. We do our best, both our drivers and administrators, but parents often complain about these things.”

Notwithstanding criticisms of the SUFSD, Kelly was proud of students’ courage and camaraderie during the incident, he said. “From the good cheer in the ER, to the sharing of rides back to school, to refusing to leave the ER until a friend was cleared, to parents waiting to see if anyone needed a ride, to our Public Safety Officers on hand, this experience was a healthy example of how thoughtful and resourceful we can be when we stick together.”