Report faults Kuna school bus driver in fatal crash

Investigators find that Debra Boatwright failed to yield to a dump truck in an accident that killed a sixth-grader.

jsowell@idahostatesman.comJanuary 15, 2014 

school bush crash, kuna, idaho

A damaged Kuna School District bus at the scene of a fatal crash in Canyon County on Thursday morning, Dec. 5 2013.


Debra Boatwright, 56, was heading east on Deer Flat Road as she was taking children to school Dec. 5 when she pulled out into the path of a dump truck, according to a report filed Monday with the Idaho Transportation Department.

The driver of the dump truck, Charles Samuel Derby, 33, was headed north on Happy Valley Road. Derby, who was not required to stop at the intersection west of Kuna, steered off the road and came back on, striking the bus near its right rear axle, according to the report.

Investigators believe Boatwright stopped at the stop sign and then pulled into the intersection in front of Derby’s truck, said Teresa Baker, spokeswoman for the Idaho State Police.

Boatwright lost control of the 1998 Blue Bird bus and spun around. The left rear wheel of the bus struck a stop sign and street sign on the northeast corner of the intersection before stopping, the report said.

Derby, who could not immediately be reached Tuesday evening by phone, ran off the road on the right shoulder of Happy Valley Road, north of the intersection, before his truck stopped.

Eleven-year-old Daniel Cook, a student at Crimson Point Elementary School, was killed by the impact. He was sitting in the 11th row on the passenger side of the bus, near where the bus was struck.

No other contributing factor to the crash is mentioned in the report beyond Boatwright’s failure to yield. At the time of the wreck, Idaho State Police said that Derby’s 1974 Mack truck had numerous equipment violations, but none of those were listed in the ITD report.

The report indicates Derby had used marijuana but does not say whether investigators believed he was under the influence of the drug that morning.

Both Derby and Boatwright were given blood tests, according to the report. The toxicology test results are not expected for a couple of weeks, Baker, of the ISP said.

Canyon County Prosecutor Bryan Taylor will decide whether any charges are brought against Boatwright or Derby. By Tuesday afternoon, he had not received any of the case reports, Canyon County spokesman Joe Decker said.

Taylor is not expected to make any decisions on the case until the lab results are submitted, Decker said.

At least three of the four children who were hospitalized following the crash were seated near Cook.

A 10-year-old girl was seated a row ahead of Cook, on the driver’s side of the bus. A 9-year-old boy was in the eighth row on the passenger side, while an 8-year-old boy was on the driver’s side of the seventh row.

The report did not indicate where one other 8-year-old boy who was hospitalized was sitting.

Twelve students between the ages of 5 and 11 were on the bus at the time of the accident.

School district spokeswoman Melanie DeLashmutt, who also serves as the district’s human resources director, did not return a call Tuesday afternoon.

John Sowell: 377-6423, Twitter: @IDS_Sowell

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