A Churchill County school bus crashed into a ditch on Testolin Road at about 1:30 p.m., according to Churchill County Sheriff Cpt. Jon Haugen.
The bus carried three children and the driver, none of who were seriously injured according to Haugen and Churchill County School District interim Superintendent Bus Scharmann.
Scharmann said the driver, Susan Taddo, 58, of Fallon declined medical treatment and was heartbroken over the accident. The children, ages 9-13, were transported to Banner Churchill Community Hospital with minor injuries.
“It was a slow roll over,” Haugen said.
According to the Nevada Highway Patrol, the bus was travelling northbound on Testolin Road between Lazy Heart Road and Union Lane. Taddo veered to the right side of the road when an oncoming crew of tree trimmers from West Coast Arborists approached in the southbound lane of the dirt road.
The bus slid off the embankment about 100 feet from a nearby home. The bus landed on its side with the sliding door pinned against the ground.
“It looks like she came up on the shoulder and it gave out,” Haugen said.
The ditch, meanwhile, only carried about 6 inches of water. The WCA crew of Temo Lopez, Travis Hettinger and Michael Wesner jumped in, pried the back door of the bus open and escorted the children and Taddo out of the bus.
“We were passing each other and it got too far over,” Hettinger said. “My heart stopped. We pulled up, jumped out and tried to get that emergency door open.”
Lopez, 40, Hettinger and Wesner, both 28, and all of Fallon, said the accident was shocking.
Lopez has an elementary-aged son who attends E.C. Best and said his son was all that went through his mind as he jumped into the ditch.
“The kids were OK until they got up (on the road) and it all of sudden hit them,” Lopez said. “They started crying. I have a kid who rides the school bus and it freaked me out.”
Hettinger and Wesner said it took the men about 5 minutes to pry open the back door. Scharmann and McAfee said the door may have been jammed due to the force of the busing crashing into the ground.
Nevertheless, once the men busted the door open, they took the children to safety. Taddo, meanwhile, was able to wriggle free from her seat belt, according to Hettinger.
As for the cause of the accident, NHP Area Lieutenant Andy McAfee reported Taddo said she may have “unnecessarily moved” too far to the right as the WCA trucks came closer.
NHP has taken over the investigation, according to McAfee. Numerous ambulances, sheriff’s deputies and fire crews from Naval Air Station Fallon arrived on the scene.
“She’s physically OK,” Scharmann said of Taddo. “She’s pretty upset she let this happen.”
Taddo was recognized in July 2012 by CCSD trustees for winning the conventional bus category during the 34th annual Road-eo held in Reno.
She nearly won Top Gun award presented to the driver who compiles the most points from each of the three categories. Taddo is in her third year with CCSD after previously driving transit buses to assist special needs students for a school district in California.