Witnesses Help Rescue Students In Fatal SUV, Konawa Bus Crash
Classes were canceled at Konawa Public Schools Monday, following the death of a middle school student.
“The smoke was so bad, you couldn't see the seats, but you could smell the plastic burning,” said April Summers.
Summers said she was in a car with her fiancé, and two other people who stopped to help. Soon, the good Samaritans discovered the victims on the bus were part of the Konawa girls’ softball team.
“We were running. I picked up one of the girls, carried her. Then 15 to 30 seconds… the first explosion happened,” said Jeffrey Rasmussen, another witness.
Summers and Rasmussen said they thought they helped everyone on the bus.
Rasmussen said he checked every seat, but the smoke was thick.
Summers recalls standing at the door to catch children as the jumped to safety.
“The screams are pierced in my ears for the rest of my life…for the rest of my life,” said Summers.
It wasn’t until after the witnesses left the scene, that they heard 12-year-old Rhindi Isaacs died inside the bus.
Related Story: Konawa Community Holds Vigil For Bus Crash Victim
Troopers said before the wreck, multiple people called 911 to report a SUV was swerving into oncoming traffic.
When investigators arrived, they identified John Tallbear as the driver of that SUV.
Records show Tallbear was arrested for driving with drugs and drug paraphernalia in January 2019. He was also recently exonerated for a 1992 murder involving a homeless man.
Troopers said Tallbear was driving on the wrong side of the road when he crashed into the bus.
Tallbear and his female passenger died on scene. That woman has still not been identified.
The witnesses said they believe God was there with them in the moments of the crash.
But, they are infuriated by how others on scene responded.
Rather than help the kids, driver and coach escape, Summers said many bystanders were recording the bus fire.
“Taking pictures, taking videos. They refused to even help,” she said. “There needs to be a law to prevent stuff like this from happen.”
The witnesses said they have checked on the team in the days since the crash.
If you would like to donate to the Isaacs family, please call Sooner State Bank or Bancfirst. They have opened accounts to receive donations.