A Jeep collided with a Palestine school bus Wednesday afternoon near the Lawrence Gravel pit north of Palestine, slightly injuring the Jeep driver but leaving the 12 Palestine student-athletes and bus driver uninjured.
Tara Joy Garrett, 38, Palestine, was driving the Jeep south on Hutsonville-Palestine Road near County Road 1400N about 3:35 p.m., when she overcorrected while following the curve. David S. Mendenhall, 46, Palestine, was driving the bus and tried to avoid the collision, but the Jeep sideswiped the bus.
"I have no doubt his maneuver saved both our students and the driver of the vehicle from serious injuries," said Unit 3 Superintendent Joe Sornberger.
Garrett said the sun blinded her just long enough to hit the bus.
The black 1993 Jeep Wrangler struck the bus ahead of the left rear wheel, knocking the tire off the rim, before the stopping partially off the west side of the road.
The students were members of high-school boys' basketball and junior-high girls' volleyball teams headed to Hutsonville for practice, Sornberger said.
After the accident, the students were taken to a safe location and checked by medical personnel. The students were released to their parents.
Besides the bus's tire being knocked off the wheel, the accident broke an angle bracket ahead of the wheel well and bent the body past that point.
The jeep struck below what is called the crash line on the bus. A school bus carries its passengers above where most accidents will occur, according to the Illinois Board of Education. This means the force of the accident will pass below the passenger compartment, a design intended to prevent injuries.
The Jeep's left passenger side was crumpled by the accident, the protective grille folded back and part of the undercarriage touching the bent left front wheel.
Garrett was issued a ticket on a charge of failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. She was limping after the accident, but did not go to the hospital.
The bus was towed by Four Seasons Wrecker Service and the Jeep carried on a flatbed from Shook's Wrecker Service.