SUV crashes into school bus downtown

The truck's driver received minor injuries in the rear-end wreck this morning.

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WALLA WALLA -- A woman driving a 2003 Ford Expedition rear-ended a school bus at roughly 7:30 this morning, totaling her vehicle.

According to Public Information Officer Tim Bennett, Vicky Challis, 49, was using her stereo system and did not see the bus, which was stopped for a red light at Second Avenue and Main Street.

The Walla Walla School District bus was carrying an elementary school-age girl along with the bus driver, Rogelio Jara, 48. Neither was injured.

"Only one student, thankfully, was on the bus," said Superintendent Mick Miller. "Our school nurse will check with her at least one more time today."

The girl's parents were notified immediately after the crash, Miller said. Challis suffered minor injures, according to Bennett, and was cited for speed too fast for conditions.

According to Miller, traffic crashes involving school buses are fairly rare in the School District.

"It happens periodically in town," Miller said. "We actually had one earlier this year."

Miller said the earlier crash this school year and one reported last year both involved bus drivers hitting parked cars while navigating sharp turns.

More concerning, Miller said, are divers who fail to stop for buses with red lights flashing.

"That happens daily," Miller said. "That just puts kids at risk. Our focus this year has been the school zone."

Most traffic-related incidents in Walla Walla involve students walking or biking to school, according to Miller. Last year three students were hit in crosswalks by motorists. Miller said none of the students was taken to the hospital, but at least one student suffered lingering effects.

Bennett added that since Jan. 1, city police officers have issued 31 citations for speeding in a school zone.

Luke Hegdal can be reached at lukehegdal@wwub.com or 526-8326.

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