Lindsay Thompkins, Teen Girl Killed in School Bus/18-Wheeler Crash on I-79 in Butler County, PA
UPDATE (January 6, 2023): Recent reports say Canadian truck driver Karandeep Singh now faces multiple charges including homicide by vehicle, aggravated assault by vehicle, and reckless driving after the crash in Butler County.
Investigators believe that Singh was traveling an estimated 18 miles per hour along I-79 due to mechanical issues that prevented his truck from accelerating to the speed limit of 70mph. Reports say he had just re-entered the highway from a nearby truck stop when the bus, traveling at highway speeds, rear-ended the big rig.
Later inspection of the semi-truck allegedly found several violations that if known would have rendered it "out of service."
UPDATE (November 4, 2021): Authorities have identified the bus driver killed in this accident as 31-year-old Lindsay Thompkins.
Butler County, PA -- November 2, 2021, a school bus driver and a teen passenger were killed in a collision with a tractor-trailer on Interstate 79 in Butler County.
Authorities say the incident happened Tuesday evening on northbound I-79 near mile marker 96.6 in Muddy Creek Township. Preliminary investigation suggests the school bus operated by R.J. Rhodes Transit and a commercial 18-wheeler with a flatbed trailer were headed north on the roadway. For reasons not yet known, the bus reportedly rear-ended the truck's trailer on the roadway.
The bus's 31-year-old driver and a 14-year-old passenger were killed in the collision. Four other injured students were transported by helicopters and ambulances to area hospitals. The bus's remaining passengers were evaluated at the scene and released to their parents. The truck driver and a passenger in the rig were unhurt.
The investigation is ongoing. No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Lindsay Thompkins Accident in Butler County
UPDATE (January 6, 2023): Further investigation seems to show the truck driver was negligent in driving on the highway when his vehicle urgently needed maintenance. Charges seemingly followed, but those and whatever may come afterward aren't for me to comment on. That's between the victims, the accused, and the authorities. However, I often talk on this blog about the importance of knowing exactly why a truck wreck happened and that seems important to address here too.
That's why it sometimes irritates me to see authorities, the news, and occasionally even attorneys take initial crash details as everything there is to know. The people hurt by this crash deserve all the facts, and I know from long experience that a more careful look sometimes shows someone's mistake is actually a symptom, not the disease. For example, if that truck truly was limping along the highway and had one or more debilitating problems, it's important to find out who put it and its driver on the road.
I think most people realize that getting the truth generally takes more than accepting a plausible or obvious explanation and looking no further. Injured victims and grieving families deserve the whole story, and steps must be taken to ensure everyone responsible for what happened faces appropriate consequences. Will those steps be taken here?
ORIGINAL: Early reports mostly paint in broad strokes about this terrible accident, and it's important not to jump to any conclusions while there's still so much work to do. There are still many details that need to be carefully investigated and verified before anyone can say what really happened on I-79.
Was anything wrong with the bus that kept it from stopping before it hit the truck? How fast were both vehicles moving? How far apart were they? Did the truck slow or stop abruptly in front of the bus? Was the bus driver's attention on something besides the road? If so, what? What was visibility like in the area? What about road conditions? Ultimately, could any kind of external influence have caused the bus to collide with the truck's trailer?
I don't ask these questions to overcomplicate this matter or point any fingers. There is simply the unavoidable and tragic fact that two people were killed in this accident--one of them a child. Considering the damage done, it seems the very least that's needed is a thorough investigation that finds much-needed answers for the victims' families.