Plainwell bus driver crosses in entrance of practice, on depart

PLAINWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — The superintendent of Plainwell Community Schools says a longtime bus driver is on administrative leave after pictures surfaced of his bus crossing in front of an oncoming train, with kids in tow.

Superintendent Matt Montange says a letter was sent home to parents Friday afternoon explaining the situation.

Herb Theodore says warning lights were flashing at the crossing when it happened Thursday afternoon.

“And he stopped, opened his door, and looked both ways, flashers going. And then he took off across the crossing,” said Theodore, who snapped the photos that eventually spread across social media.

Theodore says seconds after he took the first photos, the train’s triangular headlights came into view.

Plainwell, school bus, train tracks
Herb Theodore captured photos of a Plainwell school bus driving across some train tracks even though the warning lights were flashing. (Jan. 11, 2018)

“It’s just not something you would expect somebody to do with a bus load of kids,” Theodore added.

State law says any vehicle is prohibited from crossing train tracks while warning signals are activated, unless a police officer is there to allow you to cross.

Theodore, who is a lifelong railroad buff who stops to take pictures of trains every chance he gets, says it appeared the bus had enough time to make it. However, he adds that when it comes to trains and their ability to stop, looks can be deceiving.

“It’s such a large mass moving, you can’t tell where he’s at, what he’s doing, you know, speed wise,” he said. “Before you know it, it could be on top of you. “

Theodore called the school, then posted the photos on his Facebook page.

“I guess in my mind, it adds another layer of accountability,” he said of his decision.

Concerned parents also called the school.

Theodore says he’s confident the district will do the right thing. Montange says he hopes to have the investigation completed by next week.

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