UPDATE: Officials say school bus caused chain-reaction accident

Friday, July 11, 2008 | 8:18 p.m. CDT; updated 4:54 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Craig Caldwell, center, a representative from the First Student bus company, questions bus driver Virginia Johnson after the four-vehicle pileup on Stadium Boulevard. No students were on the bus when the accident occurred.

COLUMBIA — A First Student school bus caused a four-vehicle accident at Stadium Boulevard and West Broadway at about 3:50 p.m. Friday, Columbia Fire Battalion Chief Steve Sapp said.

According to a release from the Columbia Police Department, the school bus was traveling south on Stadium when it struck a car stopped in traffic. The impact drove the car under the car ahead of it, which pushed that car into another vehicle.

No students were on the bus at the time of the accident, said Bill Lehman, contract manager with the bus company.

The driver, Virginia Johnson, was unhurt, Sapp said.

James Watson of Columbia, a driver in one of the cars, and a 14-year-old passenger were transported to University Hospital with minor injuries, according to the news release.

Menghistab Siele, who witnessed the crash as it happened behind his car, said he saw the school bus run into the car in front of it.

Siele said he looked in his rearview mirror and “heard this boom, boom, boom, boom.”

Beth Kalimba, a driver of one of the cars, walked away unscathed, though her Pontiac was smashed up in the accident.

“I’m totally fine,” Kalimba said.

Another driver, Rene Barton of Kansas City, had just arrived in Columbia for her 30th high school reunion when she was caught in the accident. She was not injured. Her car suffered minor body damage.

Missourian reporter Julia Haslanger contributed to this story.

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