By ALLEN RAU
Three separate incidents involving Washington County school buses last week have indirectly led to a personnel change at the Department of Education.
Randy Adams, transportation supervisor for the county DOE, “is no longer employed by the county” according to Jarrod Adams, Washington County Department of Education special projects manager.
“Not specifically because of those instances,” Jarrod Adams said, citing a Feb. 27 accident, a Feb. 28 suspected DUI and a minor incident on March 1. “As we were following up with our review of our own procedures to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep the kids safe while they’re on the bus, the question came up as to how often we do our drug screenings for our bus drivers.
They are supposed to be done twice a year, randomly, and in questioning the transportation supervisor, he gave assurances to (Kimber) Halliburton that those drug screenings were up to date. But once we went back to actually look at the actual drug screening reports, it came to light that those drug screenings had not taken place since the fall of 2014.”
The spate of incidents began on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at 3:42 p.m., according to a Tennessee Highway Patrol Traffic Crash report. It also said a Washington County school bus driven by Lanty Ross Lindley, 68, of Jonesborough, ran off Cherokee Mountain Road into a ditch and hit a tree.
“Four students were transported to the hospital and a fifth one showed up after he had gotten home and his parents brought him back to the hospital when he was complaining of a headache,” Jarrod Adams said. He added that the bus was taking students home from David Crockett High School.
The report stated “while (the bus) was negotiating a curve, the driver failed to maintain his lane of travel, leaving the roadway to the left. (The bus) then struck the ditch and then a standing tree coming to final rest.”
A student on the bus at the time of the wreck, David Crockett ninth-grader Nathan Brooks-Gilham said, “I had my head down and I had headphones in so I wasn’t paying attention much. I didn’t really hear anything either. When he hit the tree I looked up, my face hit the seat really hard.”
Brooks-Gilham said another student got off the bus and saw diesel leaking out of the bus and all of the students left the bus.
“A bunch of students were crying,” he said. “I stayed on the bus with the driver. His leg was pinned between the steering wheel and the side of the bus and I tried to move the steering wheel but it was stuck and I couldn’t really move it.”
The crash report states that Lindley was also transported to the hospital with a “suspected serious injury”, where an officer contacted the driver to get a statement from Lindley. His updated condition was not available at press time.
“The driver advised he was fatigued and had fallen asleep while operating (the bus),” the report stated.
Lindley was charged with a “Reckless/Careless” violation.
According to Jarrod Adams, Lindley is an ordained minister for Midway Presbyterian Church, as well as an occasional substitute teacher. “He had actually substituted that day for Sulphur Springs School,” he added.
The second incident occurred on Feb. 28 at 7:20 a.m. on East Main Street in Jonesborough. A press release by the Jonesborough Department of Public Safety said 49 year-old Jackie Adams, of Telford, was arrested for Driving Under the Influence and Reckless Endangerment while driving a Washington County School Bus.
The bus was delivering students to Jonesborough Middle School and Jonesborough Elementary School, Jarrod Adams said.
A motorist observed a school bus driving erratically, Chief Ron Street said, and called the Jonesborough Police Department. An officer was nearby and responded to the call.
According to the Incident Report, the officer “intercepted that vehicle at East Main and Boone Street and started observing it. The bus was full of children traveling at 3 mph in a 20 mph zone, rolled over a curb, and crossed into the oncoming travel lane when I attempted to initiate a traffic stop.”
After the bus pulled over, Street said, the officer administered a field sobriety test, which Jackie Adams performed “not well”.
Due to her performance of the sobriety test she was taken to have blood drawn at Jonesborough Community Care, the report stated. She was then booked into the Washington County Detention Center. Video from the bus and from the officer’s body camera was also obtained.
“The next step will be that we’ll get the toxicology (report) back, Street said, “and they’ll set a trial date or depending on how the toxicology report comes back.”
Jackie Adams is being held on a $15,000 bond.
“Right now (Jackie Adams) and Mr. Lindley, both are suspended without pay until we get the actual investigative reports” Jarrod Adams said.
A minor incident involving a bus was reported on March 1 at 2:40 p.m. at Jonesborough Elementary School. According to the crash report from the JPD, a school bus was “parked legally in a bus lane when the driver exited the school bus. The driverless vehicle rolled forward and collided with the rear end of vehicle 1. There were no injuries present at the scene of the crash.”