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A tanker truck filled with diesel fuel collided into a bus full of school kids Monday afternoon. The cause of the crash was likely a simple driver oversight, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The crash happened at Elm and Central avenues in Fresno County around 2 p.m. The intersection reopened several hours later after a dangerous cleanup effort.
It was a frightening time for the school kids being treated by first responders on the side of the road after their bus slammed into a tanker filled with 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel.
“It’s sad because all you see is a bunch of little children, standing there crying,” said Rosie Gonzalez, who arrived to pick up her two young sisters and young cousin.
“My other sister’s side is hurting,” she said. “And my cousin can’t really walk right now.”
Maria Reynaga also rushed to the scene. Her three grandkids were on the bus. “She hurt her arm and her neck is hurting, she was one of the ones that was in the front,” she said.
Those kids, 20 in all, were transported to the hospital to be treated for minor to moderate injuries, according to the CHP.
“I’m glad nobody was seriously hurt. I’m glad nobody lost their life in the whole situation,” said Tara Boyd, who lives near the crash scene.
The crash and painstaking cleanup kept Boyd from going home for hours Monday night. She says there aren’t too many crashes in the area, but the ones she’s witnessed have been terrible.
“People don’t really pay attention,” Boyd said. “They think nobody is coming through and they just wind up running the stop sign.”
Hours after the crash, hazmat crews finally emptied the 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel from the tanker and put it back on its tires. How it got there, investigators and witnesses tell Action News the driver accelerated into the intersection after stopping, not realizing the school bus did not have a stop.
“I believe, from what I heard, the big rig driver thought they had a stop sign, proceeded to go and was hit by the bus,” said CHP Sgt. Joseph Bianchi.
Incredibly, even the drivers survived with moderate injuries.
If the CHP finds the driver of the tanker did actually run the stop sign, as they believe is the case now, he will be cited for the illegal move.
The bus is part of the Orange Center School District. The superintendent says all of the kids are now out of the hospital.