Gladwin, MI School Bus Accident, Jan 1951


Gladwin, Mich., Jan. 17 (AP) -- A slippery, ice-covered rural road was blamed today for a school bus wreck that killed two pupils and injured a score more.
Authorities investigated to determine if a strike of county road workers had any bearing on the mishap. Sanding operations had been interrupted by the strike.
The bus loaded with 45 singing and jostling pupils homeward bound from Gladwin rural agricultural school, collided with a creamery truck yesterday at a one-way bridge. The bridge spans the northern branch of Cedar river.
The bus careened over the bridge railing and carried the screaming youngsters into the icy water 12 feet below. The bus landed upside down in three feet of water.
Heroic efforts of the bus and truck drivers and a crew of Michigan Bell Telephone workers who happened by were credited with saving many pupils from drowning.
With water pouring through broken windows of the bus, the rescuers worked frantically to get them out of the wreckage.
The water-soaked youngsters were carried to a nearby farm house and treated for shock. Ambulances brought the injured to Gladwin hospital.
Killed instantly were ARTHUR FISCH, 7, and DENNIS ZELT, 6, both of Gladwin, a central Michigan community.
WARD KLEIN, 33, Gladwin, driver of the bus, suffered lacerations about the head but ignored his wounds to join in rescue efforts. ROY DAVIS 22, Gladwin, driver of the truck, escaped injury.
The bridge is at the bottom of a gulley. North of it is a short steep hill and nearly 100 feet to the south is another hill.
Sheriff Arthur Kelly said the truck, coming from the north, had nearly cleared the bridge.
The bus, coming from the south, apparently could not stop to let the truck finish coming through the bridge. The vehicles collided at the bridge approach. The bus careened over the railing and the truck remained on the bridge.
The school children, hysterical and suffering severe shock, were dragged from the icy waters.
The nearby farm home of CHARLES WEAVER was turned into a temporary hospital. The injured were placed on sofas and beds and the floor of the living room. Water from their drenched clothing soaked the entire room.
Among the survivors was 12 year old RICHARD FISCH, brother of one of the victims.
RICHARD said he looked around after the bus had landed in the stream and figured he was the only one who had escaped injury. He saw a red scarf in the water. Pulling on it he found a little girl under the water. He pulled her up and he believed he saved her from drowning.
School Superintendent Wesley Hartman said the bus drivers had reported yesterday morning the side roads used for bus routes were not very icy and that the snow was firm. Apparently, he said, the snow had become packed and slippery from traffic during the day.
Road workers have been on strike since last Thursday in a dispute with the county road commission over the firing of two workers.
The workers are members of an AFL county employes union. Edgar Allen, president of the local said the workers struck because two fellow employes had been fired without cause. Medda J. Huber, chairman of the road commission, declared, however, they were fired for cause.
Fourteen of the injured youngsters were brought to the hospital in Gladwin. All but five were released last night. Those still in the hospital are PATSEY TOWNSEND, 10, possible skull fracture, condition critical; LOLA WRIGHT 9, lacerations and concussion, critical; JANE WELDON, 16, severe lacerations of the forehead and scalp; VIRGINIA REID, 13, lacerations and fracture of shoulder; RICHARD ECKLIN, 11, fracture of spine. Other pupils treated at the hospital were:
Another bus was sent to take home a group of youngsters who had escaped injury. At first they refused to get into the relief bus demanding other means of transportation. Twelve of them boarded it, however, after they were reassured by Superintendent Hartman, who had rushed from Gladwin to the accident scene.

The Herald Press Saint Joseph Michigan 1951-01-17


this is a reason why the

this is a reason why the safety Feds need to mandate seatbelts in school buses. Even in this day and age of motor vehicle safety, school buses still lack proper three point safety harnesses and head restraints.

I was the one with the red

I was the one with the red scarf.

Gladwin School Bus Accident

I' m Virginia Reid Thompson I was 11 years old at the time of this accident, not 13.

Gladwin School Bus Accident

I was in the Gladwin school bus that wrecked. I have a picture of the wrecked bus.