In the Conway Public School bus accident last Tuesday, a bus fell into a ditch on Gapview Drive when the shoulder of the road gave way to the weight of the bus as the vehicle drove along the shoulder to avoid construction cones placed by ABC Tree Services, according to a Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office accident report.

The tree service took up a lot of the road, and there wasn’t enough room to get through there, said Conway Public Schools Transportation Supervisor Ed Dow.

"[The bus driver] had to get over as far as he could," Dow said. "The shoulder was soft from the rain, and the bus went down."

In an original report of the accident, the Log Cabin Democrat reported an eyewitness’ account of the bus speeding through a work zone established by ABC Tree Services, and driving into the ditch.

However, according to the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office, no ticket was issued.

Dow said he receives calls about speeding busses two to three times per week.

"Busses are large vehicles," Dow said, "so they look like they’re going faster than a car would, and when the turbo diesel is kicked in it makes a lot of racket."

To defend the public’s perception of speeding busses, Conway Public Schools purchased GPS for each of its buses. The GPS records the speed of the bus at checkpoints throughout each route, Dow said.

"We get quite a bit of calls about our buses speeding, and if we are, we want to know it," Dow said. "Very rarely when I get a call and I look at [GPS] are they going faster than they are supposed to."

Dow checked the computer system the day the bus was reported to have been speeding on Gapview Road, and said the fastest recorded speed was 30.1 mph at 3:56 p.m.

The accident occurred at about 4:10 p.m., according to the accident report.

At the time the bus went into the ditch, Dow said, it was probably going about 15 mph. "It did not speed through a work zone," he said.

Due to ABC Tree Service blocking the east lane of traffic, the school bus moved to the shoulder of Gapview Road to avoid the cones, the accident report said.

The bus went into the ditch on the north side of Gapview Road when the shoulder gave way to the weight of the vehicle, the report said.

A Conway school bus weighs about 31,000 pounds gross weight when loaded, Dow said. According to the report, there were 11 student passengers, and driver Todd Wimberley on the bus when the accident occurred.

The accident report said the bus was towed from the ditch by Jim Smith Towing, and driven from the scene by a Conway Public Schools employer.

With no fault found by the sheriff’s office, bus driver Todd Wimberley is back on his route, Dow said.

"I am not concerned," he said. "Speed was not an issue, and we were able to drive the bus back."

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