ESPAÑOLA, N.M. (KRQE) – Students in Española are recovering after a pickup truck hit their school bus, causing it to flip. This comes just weeks after a similar bus crash in Albuquerque. The bus ride home from school Tuesday started off like normal for the middle and high school students.
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“They hadn’t dropped no one off of the bus,” said Alexandra Garcia, an Española Valley High School student. “We had just came from the middle school and it was fully packed.”
However, the afternoon quickly turned terrifying. The school bus was hit by a truck, causing it to flip.
“I remember feeling the bus, like something hit the bus and then it just started spinning after that and it felt like it was slamming on the ground and then it just skid,” said Marshall Garcia, a student at Carlos F. Vigil Middle School. “The bus driver was stuck in her seat and I had to help her out of that.”
Española firefighters were quick to the scene. Multiple agencies responded, including Española Police and Española Emergency Management, Santa Fe County Fire, Rio Arriba County Fire, and New Mexico State Police.
“When you receive calls like you are always planning for the worst and hoping for the best,” said Ron Padilla, Fire Chief of the Española Fire Department. “When you’re in route over there, you’ve got a lot going through your mind on how you’re going to react or assess the situation.”
First responders say the community is a small, tight-knit one, as they knew many of the families impacted by the crash. It especially hit home for one firefighter.
“We actually had a firefighter, one of our own, his child was on the bus, so we know most of them,” said John Wickersham, Assistant Fire Chief of the Española Fire Dept. “It’s a small community. We’re all close.”
This comes just a couple weeks after a similar crash happened with students in Albuquerque. While police believe that crash was due to drag racing, the Española crash appears to still be under investigation.
At least three teens were taken to the hospital with minor injuries while others were treated and released to parents and guardians. Alexandra Garica was helped from a crushed window by her brother, Marshall. A scary experience for all, students and first responders, alike, say they’re just glad everyone is okay — as this day could’ve turned out much differently.
“My arm has fractures and a cast currently but I’m okay,” said Alexandra Garcia. “We were all just kind of scared and just checking on each other, making sure everyone was okay and that no one was hurt or injured seriously.”
KRQE News 13 reached out to Española Police to see if either driver will face charges, but have not yet heard back.