Creek Turnpike Charter Bus Fire Ends Lawton Students' Trip

No one was hurt when a charter bus caught fire on the Creek Turnpike between 11th Street and Highway 412 in Wagoner County early Thursday.

Thursday, May 8th 2014, 7:22 am

By: News On 6

No one was hurt when a charter bus caught fire on the Creek Turnpike between 11th Street and Highway 412 in Wagoner County early Thursday.

The bus was carrying 35 children, parents and coaches to an archery competition in Louisville, Kentucky, according to parent Jason Vanhoozer.

Vanhoozer says students from Lawton's Flower Mound School were headed to a national archery tournament when the bus driver suddenly stopped the bus and woke up everyone about 4 a.m.

The bus was one of two charter buses headed to the tournament. Firefighters said the driver of the second bus saw sparks coming the engine area in the back of the first bus and notified its driver. 

Students and parents from Lawton MacArthur Middle School who were on the second bus  continued on their trip to Louisville.

The group in the burned bus is waiting at a nearby truck stop for a school bus to come from Lawton to take them back home. The fire destroyed all their luggage and archery equipment.

The fire closed the eastbound lanes of the Creek Turnpike for over 30 minutes.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol believes a back axle on the charter bus may have broken sparking the fire. The investigation continues.

Parents said it was a close call that could have been much worse had the bus driver not handled the situation the way that he did.

They said he reacted quickly to the fire, waking up the sleeping passengers and getting everyone off the bus and making sure they were safe.

He said he doesn't consider himself a hero -- he was just doing his job.

"I just hate it for them," Earl Jenkins said. "I can't say we can blame [the fire] on any certain thing. I just hate it for the kids."

Louisville, however, will have to wait. The students returned to Lawton after another bus came to take them home.

"They were all practicing their hearts out and they were really looking forward to it," Heidi Bond said. "I know my son's pretty devastated."

Two Tulsans offered to pay to replace all of the students' lost equipment and whatever other expenses they needed covered.

The school declined the offer, but it was very thankful for the generosity.


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