Trucker Falls Asleep, Hits School Bus
September 8, 1998
September 8 — An owner-operator who slammed into a school bus in Colorado last week fell asleep at the wheel, according to a preliminary investigation.
Ricky Martinez was driving his grain truck through Holyoke, CO, on his daily run from Sterling to Greeley to the Kansas border on Sept. 1, when he fell asleep and ran into the back of the bus. He woke up just before impact and hit the brakes, but he couldn’t avoid the collision, according to state Trooper Jim Wolfinbarger. Eleven students and two adults were injured.
The impact spun the bus 180 degrees on its wheels and sent it rolling down a shallow ditch, where it came to rest on its left side.
The rig blocked both lanes of the highway and Martinez had to be freed from the wreckage, Wolfinbarger said. A fire started in the truck engine just after impact but was quickly extinguished.
Two of the victims were airlifted, while 10 others were taken to the local hospital, most treated for minor injuries.
Martinez suffered a broken leg and cuts and bruises and was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Sterling. Criminal charges are being considered, according to the Denver Post, but at most, the driver could be looking at careless driving causing bodily injury. No elements of recklessness were uncovered and no evidence of alcohol or drugs was found.