Bus drivers for Northwest trapped during storm that felled power lines

By Tom Huntington - For Times Leader
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UNION TWP. — Several bus drivers were singled out for praise by Northwest’s school board last week, including two from Kabata Transportation for their quick thinking during powerful thunderstorms that took down power lines.

The storms struck right around dismissal time Tuesday afternoon. School Director Peter Lanza pointed out because of felled trees and utility poles — plus other storm debris clogging roads — drivers had to use alternate routes to get students safely home.

Lanza also pointed out that two drivers were trapped after live power lines fell across and near their buses. The incident happened while en route to the Northwest Intermediate School on what is known as Main Road in Hunlock Township. However, there were no students aboard either bus at the time.

A spokesperson for Kabata said Robert Lanning and Shannon Thomas were trapped inside their vehicles when strong winds toppled a utility pole, which fell on the roof of Lanning’s bus.

Thomas was in another bus about 100 yards away. A tree also fell on that bus, shattering its windshield.

Thomas, an EMT, was able to advise Lanning to “sit tight” until help arrived via a radio system that Northwest purchased last year to enhance communication between bus drivers.

They had to sit for almost three hours until a crew from UGI arrived to cut power to the lines so they could exit their buses safely.

The Kabata spokesperson described the buses involved as a 2013 model Bluebird and a 2015 model Bluebird.

Kabata dispatched two other vehicles to take the elementary-age students home.

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By Tom Huntington

For Times Leader