PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Two eighth graders from the Barack Obama Academy in the Pittsburgh Public School District were injured while hanging out of a school bus after classes on Wednesday.
District spokeswoman Ebony Pugh tells KDKA’s Kym Gable both girls were still being treated at Children’s Hospital late Wednesday night.
One of them, 13-year-old Shataya Cohen, required surgery late Wednesday after cutting her neck.
Her mother, Tennille Tomlin, tells KDKA’s Kym Gable that a metal sign on the pole cut her daughter’s neck, coming very close to a vital artery.
“They’re just trying to make sure everything is all right, make sure she’s not going to be paralyzed on her right side because there’s air pockets on her neck and everything,” said Tennille Tomlin, Cohen’s mother.
“They said they was looking out the window to watch the fight, and then went to pull off and her head got caught between the school bus and the pole,” she added.
Tomlin says her daughter has been conscious and alert all day. She feels the driver should have checked more thoroughly to make sure the children had their heads inside the bus.
“We just seen her, so she’s doing pretty good right now,” Tomlin added.
Both girls had their heads out of the bus window as the driver pulled out onto Highland Avenue in East Liberty. Their heads hit a pole on the sidewalk.
Pugh says many students had their heads out of the windows, but only the two girls were injured.
“That actually is a surprise because I’ve never seen that happen before,” said Sebastian Conway-Phillips, a student at the school. “Maybe it’s just middle school, but I’ve never seen it at the high school where kids are sticking body parts out.”
The bus was not speeding, Pugh says.
“I think it’s the end of the school year and kids are excited, but I think they need to be reminded about that kind of thing,” added Mary Conway-Phillips, Sebastian’s mother.
One girl was transported by ambulance.
A teacher took another child in her car.
UPDATE (June 5, 2014)–
Sources say there was a substitute driver from the A1 Transit bus company on the route Thursday during a half day of classes for the students due to finals, because Wednesday’s driver, a female, was too upset about the incident.
Sources close to the bus company say the bus driver did tell the students to be seated, and checked in and around the bus before taking off.
Those sources say the company has complained to the school administration and the district about standing, and not following the rules on this particular route, but has gotten no response or support for its drivers.
KDKA could not get a response from the district Thursday afternoon about complaints.
A spokesperson for the district said earlier, however, there is an investigation into the accident.