Mother claims CMS did not call after bus accident

by: Paige Hansen Updated:

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CHARLOTTE —

A 13-year-old Whitewater Middle School student told Channel 9 he was terrified after the bus he was on Tuesday afternoon was hit by another school bus on Moores Chapel Road after 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Elaine Lehmann told Channel 9 it took hours for her to hear from the district. 

Lehmann said she first heard about the accident from one of her son's friends within an hour of the crash. Her sons, Nassir and Muhammad Abdullah, were home from school Wednesday with notes from emergency room doctors.

“It's my first time being in a crash and it hurt, like, every part of my body,” said Nassir.

Chopper 9 Skyzoom flew over the scene Tuesday.

The 12- and 13-year-old brothers said they were sitting three to a seat when they were rear-ended by another school bus.

 “All the kids flew in different directions. The bus was smoking,” said Lehmann.

Lehmann said about an hour after the accident, she got a call from her son's friend, thinking the accident was minor.

But at 5:30 p.m., her son called to say they were hurt and among nine students headed to the hospital.

She said she did not hear from the school district until 7 p.m., when she got a recorded call from Whitewater's principal. The message said there were two buses that had been in an accident.

“She gave the bus number and she said the parents had been contacted. At that time we had not been contacted,” Lehmann said.

CMS said a Connect-Ed call went out around 5 p.m., telling parents about the crash and that it is up to parents to keep their contact numbers up-to-date.

The school's principal thought Connect-Ed was the most effective way to reach parents.

At 10 p.m. Tuesday night, Lehmann said she got a personal voicemail from Whitewater's vice principal.

"I do apologize for calling so late but there was a bus accident this afternoon, and I was calling to make sure that they were OK," the vice principal said.

Lehmann told reporter Paige Hansen the call was too little, too late.

“I feel like they should have handled it the way they would have wanted it handled if it were there child,” Lehmann said.
 
The district said the two bus drivers are both being paid during the investigation, but will not be driving buses.

Investigators are looking into claims that at least one driver was on a cellphone, which is against state law.