This Story of a School Bus Driver Getting Hypothermia Will Give You Chills

School bus driver's pleas for a bus with a working heater were ignored.

The driver of a morning bus headed to Monroe Middle School in Wheaton, Ill., on Jan. 23, 2014, says she was given an unheated bus to drive her route and later was treated for hypothermia. | Credit: Patch file
The driver of a morning bus headed to Monroe Middle School in Wheaton, Ill., on Jan. 23, 2014, says she was given an unheated bus to drive her route and later was treated for hypothermia. | Credit: Patch file

By Ted Schnell

A school bus driver in Illinois said she was treated for hypothermia at a hospital emergency room after her employer ignored her repeated pleas that her bus be replaced with one with a working heater during subzero conditions.

Elisha Jones, a driver for Illinois Central School Bus, said that when she first got on her bus about 7 a.m. Jan. 23, she complained that it was cold, but her supervisors insisted the bus would warm up before she picked up the first children on her route.

A check of the archives on FriendlyForecast.com shows the temperature in Wheaton, Illinois, from 7 to 8 a.m. that day was -3 degrees, with winds of 19.6 mph and gusts to 27.6 mph. The National Weather Service’s wind chill calculator put the wind chill values for that morning from -26 to as low as -29 degrees.

Much of the country has been grappling with extreme cold temperatures.

Jones said she was alarmed her employer would show such great disregard for Monroe Middle School students on her route and for her own safety.

“We are aware that there was a bus issue last week involving one of the routes for Monroe,” Wheaton Community Unit School District 200 Public Relations Director Erica Loiacono wrote in response to an inquiry from Wheaton Patch. “The Principal was onsite and handled the situation appropriately. We are following up with Illinois Central accordingly.”

For more on this story click here.

Bill Storm, January 30, 2014 at 05:43 PM
What is ACCORDINGLY? What was the matter according to? That is a dumb, beat around the bush answer that means nothing happened.
Lynda Mae Viles January 30, 2014 at 08:03 PM
Please tell me How Many Children Were Treated for Hypothermia?
Nancy Miller January 30, 2014 at 08:14 PM
this is shameful
Patricia Alkawadri January 30, 2014 at 11:45 PM
Shame on them. They should have had the decency to help this bus driver when she phoned in to say that she needed a bus replacement because of a heater inside of that school bus she was driving didn't work. And she had to go and pick up the kids so that she could drop them off at their school. Both she and the kids were freezing on that bus and they shouldn't have to ever endure something like that. Not only did she phoned in to her boss once, but several times to no avail and she winded up after an hour after dropping the kids off at their school in the E.R. So uncalled for. And they never even bothered to check on the kids' welfare or even on hers at all. Hopefully a lawsuit will be brought against her employer for their negligence. Not only is this uncalled for, but it's also very irresponsible for not providing any assistance to her at all.
Patchogue Snoop January 31, 2014 at 06:37 AM
ER? Come on now.....sounds like building a case for a law suit. I work outside in the wind all day. No ER for me, it must be warmer inside a bus for sure...scam.
John Boy January 31, 2014 at 11:14 AM
I read Patch in Pasco Co FL. Our lowest temperature this week has been around 40. Why are we getting this story. AOL and Patch are really going downhill.
Jennifer Rockford January 31, 2014 at 01:29 PM
Hey Patch - you have already fired 90% of your employees, just flush the whole thing now and be done with it. When my "local" patch tells me of a "local" incident, and I live in East Hampton, NY and the "local" story is in Illinois, guess what? I don't give a sh**. And I will be sending you a dictionary to help you define the word "local."
Paisley January 31, 2014 at 01:33 PM
The patch doesn't cover anything that isn't already written by someone else. They could do local stories like a google self driving car being at the bankhead - but they would rather race bait or put out propaganda for the admin. Dear Patch - everyone has twitter. You are worthless.
Malcolm Raymond February 01, 2014 at 08:03 AM
Most if not all school bus drivers use the pre trip inspection to ensure the bus is in working order. If the bus does not function as the manufacturer intended another bus should have been supplied for the run. A recent federal law bans drivers from idling their engine to warm the bus if no passengers are on board. So here is a mine field of problems which can only be resolved by the driver standing up to their employer if needed and by ignoring the federal government law, starting the bus and letting it idle. Or drive the bus with heaters blowing ice cold air around the bus till the engine warms up. Not a nice thing to do first thing in the morning. It takes about 30 minutes for the bus to warm up and is I would have thought a safety issue paying attention to the road while freezing your rear end off! The more local school district try and save money by using outside contractors with older equipment and avoiding issues of equipment and staff upkeep, the more of this outrages nonsense will continue. Better not to know or might have to care!
Patchogue Snoop February 01, 2014 at 11:04 AM
Not true. It in no way shape of form takes thirty minutes of warming up a bus. Maybe a minute or two or it is broke and should not be on the road spewing pollution all over, which it will. I believe most if not all have supplemental electric heaters that instantly blow hot air. Dress warm and be prepared.
Thomas Little February 01, 2014 at 01:41 PM
was this a diesel bus? if so and I believe it was...if the temperature is between 4 to - 30 deg. F* the recommended warm up time is 15 to 30 min. And the bus driver was treated frost nip which is the first stages of frost bite and she showed hospital paper work to the reporter to sustain that claim. This bus driver says she was terrified. She had children she was responsible for and when she called her dispatcher she was told to continue the route there was nothing they could do the bus needed a part to be repaired. All this responsibility for a $!4.74 an hour job. And then she has skeptics who say she is committing fraud? Unbelievable. So quick to judge.
Malcolm Raymond February 01, 2014 at 02:00 PM
I've driven a school bus for 14 years, big ones small one and the only electric heater is the one in your head blowing hot air!
Patchogue Snoop February 02, 2014 at 07:13 AM
Tom are you her lawyer? It has never been -30 on long island. Where do you get you stats of 15-30 min? I suggest you also research engine block heaters that provide instant warm ups. No modern diesel engine needs that absurd length of warm up time. NONE. Scam city......gold diggger for sure. Again, I work outside all day in the wind, wet, etc. No problem. No ER. No whining. No bogus lawsuit. Malcom....are you suing too? I suggest you google "bus heater". Thanks for the insult.
Thomas Little February 03, 2014 at 04:58 AM
patchogue...you're not even getting the gist of malcomb's comment and wonder why do i even care...but i will try anyway...here goes. the bus driver said the heater wasn't working. so malcomb is saying that when the driver begins their shift and something is not working what they should do is replace the bus and how that didn't happen here and instead the driver was told to go about her shift that the bus would warm itself and then from that it all fell apart with the bus driver becoming terrified and having to be treated for frost-nip, yada yada yada. whatever. forget about that. what i want to talk about is your comprehension of what you're reading especially when you are so quick to judge from the things that you have read. the heater(s) wasn't working. even if there were an auxiliary diesel fired engine heater THAT wasn't working. to keep the diesel full from congealing in below 0 temperatures it is recommended to idle from 15-30 minutes. now THAT is what malcomb and i were talking about so whatever you were going on and on about was way way off topic...but when you miss the point of a comment and then comment on the point that you missed it invalidates anything else you may ever comment about.
Teresa Gray February 05, 2014 at 06:11 PM
Wow, all of these skeptics, smh. As a school bus driver for 7 yrs, I believe the story. Not a single bus in our fleet of 80 will warm up in a minute or two. In cold weather it takes at Least 15 minutes of driving it, again, I say at Least. When I was driving mine, when it was that cold here, even after 30 min it was not that warm (and my heat works great) Not to mention all the opening and closing of the door to let students on. Then you drop off your students at school and might have a 10-40 minute layover for which you have to turn your bus off (heat does not work when the bus is off), Yes, I believe it. In fact, wearing 2 pr of socks and boots doesn't help much. Dressing in layers helps, but I doubt her stomach had frostnip. Most likely her fingers and toes. Fingers have to remain somewhat free to operate all the buttons (kind of hard with mittens, which are recommended for that type of weather, and thick gloves interfere with the buttons also).
Roshina Loving February 05, 2014 at 06:20 PM
Half the time you are done dropping the kids off at school before the bus warms up. Wake up America ask your kids if they are cold on the bus? and does the heat work?
Roshina Loving February 05, 2014 at 06:28 PM
This story is true...most of the time the heaters don't work properly or at all. You can put it on the pre-trip inspection and tell your supervisor or mechanic but if they tell you to drive the bus and they don't have spares you have to drive it. Refusing is insubordination and you can be terminated.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »