Local news, local politics and community events for West St. Louis County Missouri.
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FACEBOOK.COM/WESTNEWSMAGAZINE WESTNEWSMAGAZINE.COM Joyous celebration honors Parkway heroes after school bus accident May 24, 2017 WEST NEWSMAGAZINE I SCHOOLS I 21 “MONTESSORI ... A PREPARATION FOR LIFE” Honored guests and students at a Hanna Woods Elementary assembly on May 18, which was held to thank local “heroes” following a bus accident on May 11. By BONNIE KRUEGER For the staff and students of Hanna Woods Elementary, superheroes came in many forms on May 11 but none of them wore capes. Uniformed first responders and men and women in street clothes came to the aid of 13 children and their bus driver, Lavitta Conrod, following an accident that sent a Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation bus careening off Interstate 44. Miraculously, no one was critically injured. Those superheroes were joyously saluted at a Hanna Woods assembly on May 17. Theresa Dodd, Leslie Johnson and Michael Nelson were first on the scene that morning. “I live nearby. I heard screams and wanted to help,” Nelson said. “I went to the kids to see if anyone was hurt. There was one child bleeding, but I could tell all the kids were going to be OK.” Despite not being sure of what he would see approaching the scene, Nelson didn’t hesitate. “I hope I would never have to, but I would it do it again if I could,” he said. Edmund Nash, the father of Emiyah, one of the children who was on the bus that morning, is thankful to people like Nelson, who stepped in to bring comfort to the frightened children. About 20 first responders, from 10 different local agencies, responded to the call for help in what Kirkwood Fire Chief Jim Silvernail called the “biggest bus accident he had ever encountered” in his 21 years as a firefighter. Silvernail said that, while the bus was driving along I-44 in Crestwood, the bus landed in the Meachum Park neighborhood in Kirkwood. Orchestrating the right agencies to come to the scene was a challenge, he said. Addressing the children’s needs was a team effort between police officers, firefighters, paramedics, Parkway officials, the Missouri Department of Transportation, and finally, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, who treated all the children and released them back to their parents that same day. Bus driver Conrod sustained moderate injuries and was in the hospital for six days. Having just been released from the hospital the night before, she was unable to attend the assembly in her honor. Those on the scene and those who have visited with Conrod since said that her concern has been consistently for her students, despite her own injuries. Chief Silvernail said it took three different extraction techniques to finally extricate Conrod from the driver’s seat. A tree came through the dashboard, narrowly missing her. “It is obvious from the accident site that Lavitta had incredible control of the bus,” Silvernail said. “She was also incredibly lucky. The accident could have been devastating.” Two students on the bus, heroes in their own right, took their responsibility of being fifth-grade leaders very seriously. Abdimalik Abdi and Richelle Gipson successfully found a door that would open and led their younger classmates out of the bus, with Abdi leading in the front, and Gipson shepherding from behind. “We are looked at as leaders and we knew we needed to help, even though we were scared and we knew we were hurt, too,” Abdi said. He even tried to help the bus driver before he exited the bus. While none of the children sustained injuries worse than a few fractures, cuts, scrapes and bruises, and possibly a delayed concussion, the emotional impact of riding the bus again loomed as a huge hurdle. To ease student concerns and show unconditional support, Hanna Woods Principal Dr. Patrick Shelton and two teachers rode the bus on May 12 and again the following Monday. “Our kids have shown such grit and determination to face their fears. Their strength of character has really shown,” Shelton said. “We are so proud of the bus driver, a true hero.” Nearly all the students returned to school the day after the accident; and in the week since, Shelton said all the children have ridden the bus, despite their apprehensions. ~ 6 Weeks To 10 Years ~ Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum ~ Full & Half Day Schedules ~ Before And After School Care ~ Degreeed, Montessori Certified And Experienced Teachers ~ Aerobics, Dance, Computer And Other Special Opportunities ~ Summer Fun Program ~ Field Trips ~ Nutritious Meals And Snacks Provided ~ State Licensed The Centre at Conway • 13725 Conway Road • Chesterfield (314) 434-3300 • www.namontessori.com Fahr Greenhouses Family Owned for 67 Years No time? No green thumb? Small car? No Problem You can still have paradise in your back yard Pick from one of our garden décor packages We will deliver it to you 18944 St. Albans Rd. (hwy. T) Wildwood MO 63038 5 minutes west of Wildwood Town Center For details www.Fahrgreenhouse.com Like us on facebook 636.458.3991