Student critically hurt by antifreeze leak on bus

Student burned after antifreeze leak on bus

MATTHEWS, N.C. -- Parents are looking for answers. They want to know what caused a Union County school bus to start leaking anti-freeze into the area where students were sitting.

It happened Monday afternoon. The driver pulled over on Mount Harmony Church Road near Stevens Mill Road in

Matthews, and one girl, a seventh grader, was burned badly enough that she had to be transported to CMC Main with non-life threatening injuries.

She was released from the hospital Monday night, according to an official from Union County Schools.

The other three students who were transported by their parents to the hospital are in school today, according to the official.

The aftermath -- a backpack covered in anti-freeze was a minor inconvenience if it meant Greg Windeknecht's son was kept from being burned.

"My heart was beating on the way over here, really fast," Windeknecht said. "But as soon as I came one of the neighbors already had them out in their car so as soon as I saw him I was like ah, I was relieved."

A mechanical issue on Bus 302 caused steam and smoke to flow from the floor of the bus toward the seats as it took Porter Ridge Middle School students home. One girl had serious burns on her legs.

"She was all bandaged up," Windeknecht said. "The fire department and everybody got here really quick and when it's a school bus, they wasted no time."

Word spread quickly to the girl's classmates.

"She was in my class since 4th grade," student Nick Horstkemp said. "So, knowing that I know her, it's just kind of scary."

"Frightens me a little bit," said Barry Forbes Jr. "Because I don't want to get hurt."

A crew took a look at the bus and cleaned up the scene before driving it away. The school system says the cause is still under investigation, but parents like Ralph Covington want an explanation.

"We trust that the school system's going to make sure the transportation our kids are on is safe," Covington said. "Obviously there's a mishap here. Something's got to be done."

UCPS transportation staff launched an investigation last night into the matter. Mechanics inspected all similar buses last night as well.

All UCPS buses are inspected every 30 days, according to a school district official.


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