A traffic light was installed last year at a rural intersection near the Illinois community of Wadsworth. One of the neighbors said she felt "safer" after the improvement at the Highway 173 crossroads, at least until a recent fatal crash involving a school bus.
Roadway safety precautions provide added protection only when Chicago drivers comply with their messages. Negligent drivers who disregard speed limits, red lights and other driving rules and guidelines dismiss the rights of other motorists.
The school bus was on a routine, weekday morning run, transporting students to a Lake County elementary school. The bus was traveling westbound on the main road when it smashed into the side of a Jeep Wrangler and the front end of a second SUV, a Jeep Cherokee.
The violent impact flipped the school bus onto its side and shattered the vehicle's windows. Residents who heard the crash were on the scene before emergency crews and removed the injured children from the bus.
The Jeep Wrangler driver, a 62-year-old Beach Park man, died in the accident.
The bus driver and 35 children, ages 5 to 10, were hospitalized. Twenty-three children were loaded onto a second bus and taken to a medical center. Most of the children were treated for nonserious injuries and released.
A dozen students and two occupants from the second Jeep were transported by ambulance to other hospitals. About half a dozen elementary school students remain hospitalized in good to fair condition.
Witnesses told conflicting stories to Lake County sheriff's deputies. Some observers said the school bus ran a red light. Others said the bus might have had the right of way. Police have not decided whether criminal charges are necessary.
A civil court would determine whether a driver was intentionally or unintentionally negligent for personal injuries or wrongful death. Settlements or jury awards could ease the hardships faced by victims or surviving family members.
Source: chicagotribune.com, "Police investigate whether school bus driver ran red light," Bridget Doyle, April 6, 2013