Forty-five students of The Model School had a close shave when a mini-van hit their bus from the rear near Al Maqta Bridge on Monday.
The boys were on their way to school for afternoon classes. The van's driver, whose identity was not revealed, died on the spot and seven children on the bus sustained minor injuries.
When notified of the accident, officials at the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) sought a report on the incident and whether the bus driver had compromised on rules. The supervisory body ordered the school management to submit a full report about the accident, including the minutes of the trip.
The Abu Dhabi Police are also investigating the accident and will submit its findings to Adec for review.
The police urged motorists in the city to take extra precaution while overtaking, driving behind or in front of school buses.
The school management said that the injured students had been discharged from the hospital.
Abdullah, a mathematics teacher who was sup-ervising the students in the bus, shared his experience with Gulf News.
"I was working on my laptop when the bus was hit from behind. The impact was so strong that myself and the driver, Harris, fell off our seats. I asked the students to remain seated and checked each one of them. One student sitting in the back seat was injured in his head by a piece of glass from the rear window. He got four stitches at the hospital," Abdullah said.
"I checked the van driver who had no injuries on his face, just an injury on his knee. He had no sign of life though and was transported in an ambulance," he added.
I.G. Nasari, the school headmaster, and principal V.V. Abdul Qader arrived at the scene, calmed the students, gave them snacks and arranged for their transportation. They then rushed to the hospital to check on the seven injured children.
Principal Qader said that the van driver must have been either speeding or switching between lanes to avoid an accident. Nasari said the accident had occurred after Al Maqta Bridge on the road diverting to Musaffah Road.
"The front side of the van was completely smashed. Only the rear glass of the bus was shattered. Driver Harris is fully healthy and reported to work. Other than the seven injured students, the others complained mainly of neck pain," Nasari said.
Sumesh Suresh, a grade 11 student, was sitting in the back seat.
"For five seconds, I couldn't open my eyes, then I had a back pain. The van driver was unconscious after the accident," he said.
Suhail Salim, a grade 10 pupil, said that he experienced pain at the back of his neck.
All students were taken to the police station to give their statements.
Lt Colonel Jamal Al Ameri, public relations director at the Traffic and Patrol Department of Abu Dhabi Police, told Gulf News that there is no special speed limit for school buses but they must adhere to traffic laws, speed limits and road signs just like any other vehicle.
"School bus drivers should also comply with bypassing regulations. Buses should not bypass another vehicle in a two-lane road," he said.
‘our driver not to blame'
"Our school bus driver is not to be blamed as the bus was hit from behind. In fact, due to the school's compliance with safety measures set by the Abu Dhabi Education Council [Adec], our pupils, who were accompanied by two supervisors, escaped serious injuries," Abdul Qader, principal of The Model School, told Gulf News.
"We insisted that the students be rushed to the Shaikh Khalifa Hospital for check-up. They all sustained very minor injuries, received the needed medical treatment, and were collected by their parents right away," Qader added. The principal said that the students, who were all Indians between eight and 15 years, attended school yesterday, except one who had a few stitches. "The bus had picked up the students from the Tourist Club Area and was heading towards the school in Musaffah when the accident occurred," he said.
Adec's regulations for school buses
The vehicle should not be old and should be well maintained.
All pupils should be seated and supervised.
The daily route should not change.
The driver should adhere to traffic regulations and not speed.
Signs should be put on the bus' front and rear, indicating ‘School Bus'.
Pupils' drop-off and pick-up should be from the right side of the road.