BY REBECCA ISENHART
NISKAYUNA — An investigation into a school bus crash near Lock 7 on Rosendale Road early this month concluded that the bus left the pavement and hit a tree because the driver was distracted and driving too fast.
The crash, with just the driver and one passenger on board, took place around 2:30 p.m. June 2. Katherine Quinn, 55, of Syracuse, was driving the bus when the tires slipped off the right side of the pavement. In an attempt to correct, Quinn steered the bus across both lanes and into a tree.
Both Quinn and the passenger, support aide Alisha Williams, 37, were taken to Ellis Hospital with non-life threatening injuries for treatment.
Williams is a Niskayuna School District employee, but Quinn is a contractor with transportation company First Student. Complaints about service quality, as well as a disagreement over contracts, caused the district to terminate its business relationship with First Student ahead of schedule earlier this year.
The company did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Niskayuna Police Chief Dan McManus said that section of Rosendale Road is tricky, but locals know it well. He suggested the fact that bus drivers were hired from out of town could have contributed to the accident. He also noted that Quinn wasn’t necessarily driving above the speed limit; she was simply traveling too fast for a vehicle that size on a tight curve.
“There were no tickets issued, but fault is indicated by the contributing factors on the report,” McManus said.
Niskayuna Central School District spokesman Matt Leon said the bus was damaged beyond repair and had to be replaced. The Board of Education approved an emergency purchase at a meeting a week after the accident, on June 9.
“Replacement cost is $131,500,” Leon said. “Some of that will be offset by insurance. We don’t have that amount yet. And then some of that will be offset by state aid, as well.”
The district is allowed to make an emergency purchase without voter approval under certain circumstances, including when a bus is unexpectedly damaged or removed from service.