Students Evacuate Smoke-Filled Bus


Ozzy Patino and Piper Canty

On the way back from a field trip to the state capitol, the Rio Americano Civitas class was forced to evacuate a smoke-filled bus.

One student suffered burned feet from stepping into a pool of leaking antifreeze as 45 students were forced from the bus  on Oct.18 around 4 p.m., on American River Drive, three blocks away from school.

“We were hearing a noise from the back of the bus during the ride back, and then suddenly I heard screaming and I saw black smoke coming from the back,” said Civitas teacher Nina Seibel.

Because the antifreeze was so toxic in its liquid state alone, when it got heated up and turned into gas it was even more toxic. The gas is more dangerous because it can get in the lungs when you breathe and burn whatever it is near.

“The gas was damp and hot, and when you breathed it in it felt like you were breathing in exhaust,” said freshman Davis Westover. “I held the air in, and a girl breathed in a lot of air that was in the bus and hours later she had to breathe through a hot towel.”

The students had to use the two emergency exits located on both sides of the bus.

“The kids started jumping out of the bus and surprisingly someone didn’t get hurt (from the smoke or jump),” said Seibel.

Gregory Gantenbein had the only major injury the entire accident. While he rushed out the bus he stepped in a puddle of a green antifreeze liquid, which went through his shoes and caused him to get a third degree burn.

The district attributed the incident to a faulty part.

“There was a defective part in the back of the bus, which made the antifreeze to leak,” said a spokesperson for San Juan Transportation Department, who asked not to be named. “The antifreeze got warm from how hot the bus was, which made the gas cloud in the bus.” 

The Transportation Department staff is sorry about the accident and hoped that everyone was okay, the spokesperson said.