School bus driver faces charges

A Chesterfield County school bus driver was charged with following too closely the day after causing an accident that involved two other school buses.

The three buses were transporting students from Elizabeth Davis Middle School on Wednesday, Dec. 1, at approximately 3:15 p.m., and were traveling west on Route 10. The crash happened near Bermuda Triangle Road, as driver Robert Mondziel, 69, collided with the bus in front of him, in turn causing a chain, rear-end collision.

According to a press release from the Chesterfield County Police Department, issued on Thursday, Dec. 2, Mondziel, the last driver in the line of three buses, failed to stop in time when traffic congestion forced the first bus to stop, but the second bus to “stop abruptly.”

“Mondziel was too close to the second bus and unable to stop in time and collided with the second bus,” said police Capt. Kevin Smith. “The second bus was pushed into the first bus.”

According to Smith, of the collective 120 students riding the three buses, four were taken to surrounding hospitals, then “treated and released for non-life threatening injuries.”

When proposals to close Chester Middle School, a decision that would ship more students to Elizabeth Davis, first surfaced, members of a citizens’ group strongly opposed the move, saying it would generate more traffic in an already congested area. In Chesterfield County, there are more than 500 buses, with more than 500 bus drivers on the road daily.

Two students riding the first bus, brothers David and Jamie Martin, recalled the physical impact of the accident. They had been riding the bus for three weeks since moving to Chester from North Carolina.

“I was reading and listening to music as our bus stopped,” said David, a seventh grader. “In a matter of seconds, glass shattered when the bus behind crashed into us.”

His brother, Jamie, a sixth grader at Elizabeth Davis, said: “After we were hit, the crash made us all bounce into the seats in front of us. I remember one girl riding with us having very bad back and neck pains after the crash.”

Their father, Steven Martin, remembers waiting for them to return home from school the day of the accident. At least 30 minutes had elapsed since the time they were supposed to be home from school.

“Finally we got a phone call from the school informing us about the accident,” he said. “The school asked that parents not come to the scene of the accident, that there were no serious injuries and they would be transported home by another bus. My concern is how the county will react to it, and how they plan to ensure nothing like this will happen again.”

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