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Fatal school bus fire spread from engine, NTSB report states

Report: Unknown why driver, passenger did not exit
Posted: 11:18 AM, Jan 26, 2018
Updated: 2018-01-26 17:57:53Z
Fatal school bus fire spread from engine, NTSB r
Fatal school bus fire spread from engine, NTSB r

The National Transportation Safety Board issued a report Friday explaining how fire spread from the engine of an Iowa school bus into the compartment, causing the death of two occupants in Oakland, Iowa, in December but had no explanation as to why the two people who died on the bus that day were unable to escape the fire.

Donald Hendricks, 74, was driving the school bus when it became stuck while trying to back out of the driveway after picking up 16-year-old Megan Klindt, who was the first student on the route. Both died as a result of the fire.

READ THE NTSB REPORT

According to the report, the right rear-drive wheel of the bus lost traction and the bus became stuck in the 17000 block of 480th Street in Pottawattamie County, Iowa, with about half the vehicle positioned across the gravel road.

"The driver attempted to move the bus forward out of the ditch," the report states. "As he was doing so, a fire began in the engine compartment and spread into the passenger compartment. Sometime during this event, the grass and vegetation at the rear of the school bus also caught fire.

"For unknown reasons, the driver and student passenger did not exit the school bus. Both occupants died as a result of the fire."

The school bus was equipped with an onboard video recording system manufactured by REI , but the NTSB Recorders Laboratory determined no data could be recovered from the device.

The bus, in service since 2005, had been subject the four recalls, including:

  1. A sensor used in the antilock brake system
  2. A sensor used in the side-mounted swing-out stop arm
  3. The wiring harness to the stepwell heater blower motor
  4. A power steering pump failure

NTSB investigators confirmed the first three recalls were performed on this bus, and determined the power steering recall did not apply to this vehicle.

The incident remains under investigation by the NTSB.  

Stay with 3 News Now for more as this story develops.