Lexington 1 checking how steam got into bus, scalding six athletes

White Knoll High School
White Knoll High School

Lexington School District 1 officials are trying to determine how steam from a leaky radiator got inside a school bus and scalded six White Knoll High School soccer players.

A burst hose released a mix of hot water and chemical coolant into the passenger compartment of a bus carrying two boys teams to games at Lugoff-Elgin High School, district spokeswoman Mary Beth Hill said Wednesday. What caused the stream to enter the bus isn’t yet clear, she said.

Engines in those types of buses are in the rear of the vehicle, state education officials said.

All the athletes burned were in the rear of the bus, Hill said.

The bus was taking 42 members of the two teams along with two coaches and the driver to games when the leak occurred about 5 p.m. Tuesday near the Elgin exit on I-20.

Some students burned are back in class, but privacy standards prevent her from saying how many, she said.

The 18-year-old bus with 180,000 miles is owned and maintained by Lexington 1. It underwent its last annual inspection March 6, 2016, but drivers check its condition before and after each trip, she said.

“We are unaware of any past repair issues,” Hill said.

The bus is one of 21 owned by Lexington 1. Others are owned by the state.

Questions unanswered include:

▪ Were any students hospitalized for treatment?

▪ How recently was the radiator thoroughly checked?

▪ Were other buses inspected as a result of this incident?

▪ Did the faulty bus transport students earlier Tuesday without trouble?

Leaky radiators aren’t a common problem on the nearly 5,600 state-owned buses that take thousands of students daily to class and activities, state officials said.

But “all these buses are old and starting to have lots of problems,” said Ryan Brown, a spokesman for the state Department of Education.

Acquisition of new buses often is stalled by lack of money.

State-owned buses undergo major inspection yearly as well as up to six more checks annually during routine maintenance, Brown said.

Lexington 1 is among several large districts in the state that own some of the buses it uses, Brown said.

Tim Flach: 803-771-8483