One Hillsboro driver sustains minor injuries in dust-up with crane

Prospective bus drivers in the Hillsboro School District are put through a rigorous training program before they ever get behind the wheel, but that, coupled with years of experience, doesn't stop occasional accidents from happening.

Three bus-related mishaps — two involving Hillsboro buses but none that resulted in injuries to students — occurred over the last week inside district boundaries, said Communications Director Beth Graser.

First, a construction crane on a flatbed truck crashed into the driver's side of Hillsboro district bus No. 129 on Thursday, Sept. 20 around 8:35 a.m.

Driver John Hummel of Forest Grove had dropped students off at Jackson and Mooberry elementary schools and Liberty High School and was stopped in the left-turn lane at the corner of Northwest Evergreen and Glencoe roads when the crane — tethered to a truck beginning a turn onto Evergreen — swiveled and plowed into his window, Graser said.

"Our driver had finished his route and was headed back to the bus barn," she noted, adding there were no students on board at the time. The impact of the heavy crane lifted the bus off the ground and suspended it "on two wheels at a 30-degree angle" before Hillsboro firefighters and paramedics arrived on the scene.

They extricated Hummel from the bus and he was transported to a local hospital, said Graser. He is expected to make a full recovery, she added.

Lt. Mike Rouches of the Hillsboro Police Department said Hummel sustained a shoulder injury and cracked ribs in the incident. The truck driver, who was not injured, was identified as 49-year-old Gary Whitener of Aumsville, Wash. The accident is under investigation and no citations have been issued.

"It's kind of weird — you're sitting there at the light and here comes a crane," said Rouches, who said he hadn't seen anything similar in 25 years on the job.

Later that same afternoon an even more bizarre incident occurred in the Farmington View-Scholls area, when a Hillsboro bus driver with 13 students on board encountered a motorcyclist who'd passed a car while rounding a blind corner, Graser said. "He came out of the turn facing our bus," she noted, "and laid his bike down and actually went under the moving bus."

"Miraculously," she said, there were no injuries in that mishap.

And, on Monday afternoon, Sept. 24, Washington County Sheriff's deputies were called to a residence on Southwest Tongue Lane to deal with a man exhibiting erratic behavior. Minutes later the man, identified as 27-year-old Kyle Getsinger of Hillsboro, crashed his Chevrolet Nova into the rear of a Head Start bus operated by the Oregon Child Development Coalition, said Sgt. Bob Ray of the sheriff's office.

Neither of the two children, nor the bus driver, were injured, Ray said. Getsinger, 27, was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries and later cited for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants and reckless driving, according to Ray.

While Graser did not know how many wrecks involving buses occurred in the Hillsboro district last school year, she did say "traveling by school bus is by far the safest mode of transportation" for students.

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