A railroad crossing arm crashed through the windows of a school bus carrying special needs children in South Los Angeles, spraying glass onto them, but no injuries were immediately reported, firefighters said.
The incident took place about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at the crossing at East 55th Street and Long Beach Avenue in Central-Alameda (map), according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The crossing arm was coming down as the bus was making a left turn onto Long Beach Avenue, investigators said. The arm busted through the side windows, narrowly missing students.
"There were students in the seats where the cross arm came down, it did strike the glass, break the glass, but the students were not injured by the cross arm," said LAFD Capt. Ken Kemp. "It was fairly close."
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Firefighters used a rotary saw to cut and remove the arm, then escorted the children off the bus, some of them in wheelchairs.
A second school bus was summoned to pick up the eight children, who were on their way to Hooper and Lizarraga elementary schools, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The driver was a contractor with First Student, a Cincinnati-based company.
A company spokesman said the driver, who's been with the company for two years, has an excellent driving record and this was his normal route.
He's required to undergo periodic background checks and drug screening, along with 50 hours of training. Per company policy the driver has been removed from duty pending an investigation and an internal review.
Union Pacific workers repairing the arm said lights at the railroad crossing are timed to go on four seconds before the arms come down, which should give drivers enough time to stop.
California Highway Patrol officers are investigating whether the arm malfunctioned or whether the driver was at fault, said CHP Officer Dion Conley.