UPDATE: Auction planned for injured Knox Co. school bus monitor

By: Morgan Lentes, Angela Sparkman, Matthew Rand Email
By: Morgan Lentes, Angela Sparkman, Matthew Rand Email
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GRAY, Ky. (WYMT) - Update 9-2-14:

A Knox County school bus monitor continues to recover following a freak accident last month.

63-year-old Sueanne Hendrickson Sizemore was critically injured when she fell out of a moving school bus.

Sizemore can now sit up in a chair, and is communicating with the help of a dry erase board.

"She doesn't really have memory of the accident itself, but she's recognizing family members and she appears to be in good spirits, and we're looking forward to a very speedy recovery," said school district spokesman Frank Shelton.

Sizemore was critically injured last month when she fell out of a moving bus on the way to Lynn Camp High School.

Shelton says a trust fund is being set up to help with Sizemore's medical expenses, and later this month, the school district will hold an auction to help raise funds.

"We're asking the community to come out and support Sue," Shelton said. "Several local businesses and organizations that have donated goods want to see the money go to her, and that's what it's going to go towards."

Sizemore has been with the district for three years, and in that time, colleagues say she's become much-loved by students and staff alike.

"She truly cares for Knox County students, and this community auction is one way for us to show that we care about her and that we're there for her throughout all the recovery and treatment she's going to have," Shelton said.

By helping to cover the cost of treatment, Shelton says school officials hope Sizemore can focus on her recovery.

The auction is set to take place September 20th at 6 p.m. at Lynn Camp High School.

Businesses or people who would like to donate items may do so by contacting the district office.

For more information, call (606) 546-3883.


Update 8-15-14

A bus monitor injured in a freak accident on Wednesday continues to fight for her life tonight.

63-year-old Sue-Anne Sizemore was still in critical condition at UK Hospital. Police say she fell through the closed doors of a moving Knox County school bus and hit the pavement.

They say she was trying to pick up a clipboard that had fallen onto the stairs. The bus driver swerved to miss some mailboxes causing Sizemore to fall.

Pike County officials talk to us about bus safety after Knox County accident.
By: Morgan Lentes 8-14-14

We went looking for answers to find out how exactly school bus doors operate.

According to Pike County school transportation officials, an accident like the one in Knox County on Wednesday could happen to anyone.

No matter the make or model, we are told that, when used properly, school bus doors should not open on their own even with added pressure.

Bart Williams is the Pikeville Independent Transportation Director. He tells WYMT an accident is any school district's worse nightmare.

"As a transportation director, every day is a great day if you do not have any students who are injured on a bus," said Williams.

The particular bus involved in the Knox County crash was a 2003 International. The Pikeville Independent School District has the very same one. Williams said every bus has several safety features.

"There is a lot that goes into it," said Williams.

Transportation officials not only tested the 2003 International bus. At the Pike County Schools bus garage, their staff looked at a newer, 2011 Thomas model.

Transportation Director for that school district, Ancie Casey, said a simple flip of a switch can make a big difference.

"We looked at opening that door with it being in automatic position and I just could not do it. I am a pretty good sized guy and I could not open that door. But now you can flip the switch and put it on manual and you can just take one hand and gently open the doors," said Casey.

Casey said the "manual" position should only be used in emergencies. However, he knows on occasion things can happen that are unexpected.

"Sometimes we all will have accidents," said Casey.

Both school districts in Pike County use buses made by both International and Thomas.

In a news release from Kentucky State Police following Wednesday's crash in Knox County, officers indicated it took only 43 pounds of pressure to force the doors open on the bus. However, school officials in Pike County said that is actually 43 pounds per square inch. We are told that means a child weighing about 50 pounds would not be able to open the doors without some sort of malfunction.

We reached out to Navistar, who designed and built the bus that the woman fell out of in Knox County.

A spokeswoman said, "the doors on our buses meet all safety requirements and our buses are designed to protect seated passengers within a safety compartment. While newer buses incorporate some enhancements, our door design still assumes all passengers are seated before a bus is in motion."
Woman falls out of moving school bus in Knox County
By: Mark Barber

KNOX COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT)- A Knox County school bus monitor is fighting for her life after police say she fell out of a moving school bus.

It happened Wednesday on Highway 830 in the Gray community.

Police say the bus monitor, 63-year-old Sueanne Sizemore, was trying to pick up a clipboard that had fallen onto the bus stairwell.

They say the driver glanced over to make sure Sizemore didn't lose her footing.

In that moment, police say the bus started to move off the road and the driver swerved to avoid some mailboxes, causing Sizemore to lose her balance.

Police say she fell through the bus doors, even though they were closed, and hit the pavement. Her nephew, Joshua Asher, says it's an unusual accident.

"A school bus is supposed to be safe, and yet she flew right through the door. It's bizarre," says Asher.

State Police say she flew through the door because it only requires 43 pounds of pressure to open. The Barbourville School Transportation Department, which shares school buses with drivers in Knox County, says it's state policy that no students or adults stand while the bus is moving or cross the white line in the front of the bus.

"Honestly, she should've waited until the bus wasn't in motion to get the clipboard because it is unsafe to stand up on a bus," says Asher.

They say Sizemore was airlifted to UK hospital and is in critical condition.

Knox County school officials say a Lynn Camp bus monitor fell out of a school bus this afternoon and suffered critical injuries.

It happened on KY Highway 830 in the Gray community.

Frank Shelton with Knox County Schools says it happened at 4:00pm following dismissal at Lynn Camp Elementary School. Shelton says the bus was traveling from the elementary school to Lynn Camp High School when the monitor fell out.

Kentucky State Police troopers say a clipboard fell from the storage compartment and landed in the bus stairwell. Police say Sueanne Sizemore, 63, got out of her seat to get the clipboard. Police say the bus driver, William Reeder, looked over to make sure Sizemore did not fall over and the bus left the road lane while he was looking at Sizemore. Police say Reeder was going to hit some mailboxes and swerved to avoid them. Police say this caused Sizemore to fall over and fall through the closed bus doors.

Police say Sizemore hit the road and rolled into a ditch. Police say it knocked her unconscious.

Sizemore was flown to University of Kentucky hospital. Police say she is in critical condition.

Kentucky State Police issued this statement on the investigation into how the bus doors opened:
"It was discovered during the investigation, that due to the likelihood of a child being injured, that the bus doors only require 43 pounds of pressure to be forced opened without the use of the opening lever. Once Sizemore fell against the doors, they easily opened allowing her to fall from the bus. Once the force is removed, the doors automatically return to their closed position."

Knox County School officials say the bus had just picked up elementary students and was driving the quarter mile between schools to pick up high school students when this happened. School officials say the elementary students were on the bus when this happened.

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