Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bus Overturns After Collision with Car

Residents Say Intersection Needs Safety Measures

By Conor Greene

Nine students from a Middle Village preschool were taken to a local hospital after the bus they were riding in was struck by a car and flipped onto its side on Tuesday afternoon.

The bus, carrying nine students from the Positive Beginnings school and two adults, was headed eastbound on 69th Road at about 1:10 p.m. when it collided with a car traveling northbound on 75th Street, according to reports and witnesses. The impact caused the bus to spin around before flipping onto its left side, striking parked vehicles in the process.

The children had exited the bus by the time emergency workers arrived at the scene. They were treated for minor injuries and taken to Jamaica Hospital for observation. A woman who answered the phone at the school on Wednesday said none of the children suffered serious injuries and all were discharged from the hospital later that day. They were on the way home from school when the accident occurred, said the woman, who asked not to be identified.

The bus was operated by a private company and is assigned to the school through the city Office of Pupil Transportation, according to the school. While a police report on the accident was not immediately available, several witnesses said the car might have ran a stop sign before colliding with the school bus.

“We’re very grateful because the children not hurt and were all strapped into seats and wearing safety belts,” the school staffer added. “It certainly looked frightening and we’re very grateful everyone is fine.”

Local residents and officials say the area near where the accident occurred is dangerous due to speeding drivers. Several approached Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) with their concerns over the past year, which prompted her to write at least four letters to Department of Transportation Borough Commissioner Maura McCarthy requesting that safety measures be implemented.

In June, McCarthy responded with a letter informing Crowley that an analysis that considered factors such as vehicle and pedestrian volume, accident history, vehicle speeds, visibility and sign spacing was completed by her office. Based upon that study, McCarthy determined that all-way stop signs were not needed at 69th Road and 76th Street, but agreed to install a “stop ahead” sign along that stretch.

Following Tuesday’s accident, Crowley wrote yet another letter pushing for a stop sign at 69th Road and 75th Street. She notes there was a fatal motorcycle accident there in 2008, and a child recently had his foot run over by a turning car while he was standing on the sidewalk. “We can no longer wait; given today’s accident… we must take immediate action and at minimum install a “stop” sign, or speed hump,” wrote Crowley.

In her letter to the DOT, Crowley attached a petition from residents, a 2008 letter written by former state Senator Serf Maltese (R-Middle Village) and photographs showing the aftermath of accidents at the intersection, including one incident where a car drove into the bedroom of a nearby home.

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