ABBEVILLE COUNTY, SC – Five months after an Abbeville County school bus crashed on US25, sending more than 20 students, chaperones and and teachers to the hospital, South Carolina Highway Patrol has released the findings of their investigation into what caused the crash to occur.
According to a Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) report, there were no mechanical issues with the bus, nor were there problems with the road.
Instead, the report details that it was the actions of the driver, Donna Mundy Link, that investigators believe lead to the crash.
“The school bus was traveling south on US 25 when it ran off the right side of the road,” Trooper Justin Sutherland of South Carolina Highway Patrol explained Thursday.
An analysis showed that Link drifted, hit a curb, and then slammed on the accelerator.
The bus then struck a mailbox, a utility pole and later a fence, before coming to a stop in an embankment.
The report detailed that the bus Engine Control Module recorded the bus accelerated at 100% full throttle 6 seconds before impact.
In Link’s recorded statement, she said she thought she hit the break.
The report refers to the bus as “Unit 1” and states the following, in part:
“Mrs. Link stated that Unit #1 traveled off the right side of the road, striking the curb with the front/right tire. Mrs. Link stated she attempted to steer to the left while applying the brakes, but Unit #1 continued to travel off the right side of the road. Mrs. Link stated she was able to keep Unit #1 from overturning down the embankment by steering down the embankment.”
The report also states that Link was wearing her seatbelt, had both of her hands on the steering wheel and was not on her cell phone when the collision occurred.
Link, an employee of just under a year, was initially placed on administrative leave and has since been terminated, according to Abbeville County School District Superintendent Betty Jo Hall.
Although she was not speeding, Link was charged for losing control of the bus.
“Upon completion of the investigation of the collision, the driver was charged with too fast for conditions,” said Trooper Sutherland.”It means that you’re driving too fast at the time to maintain control of the vehicle and operate it in a safe manner.”