HARDY COUNTY, W.Va. (WDTV/WHSV) UPDATE (05/18/2019)
"I was scared for their lives,"
Parents and guardians of Belington middle school students are outraged after their kid's eight grade field trip to Washington D.C. Left the students stranded for hours.
This was due to sleep-deprived bus drivers, who were hired by the school through a charter company.
"The drivers didn't get sleep for the past 24 hours so they were swerving and stuff," said students Hannah Williams and Grace Laskysthell "So that's why we had to wait on the side of the road, for new buses to come,"
The Hardy County's sheriff's office says their 9-1-1 center received calls about two commercial buses seen swerving all over the roadway, crossing lanes, and running off onto shoulders.
Once deputies caught up with the bus they found the drivers groggy and unfit to drive.
Parents and guardians said they only knew what was going on because of posts online.
"We didn't know anything," said Misty Alligood, who's daughter was on the trip "I kept checking the updates, like my dad said we called the school and that's how we knew anything,"
More specific details came from the kids themselves through texts and phone calls.
Malfunctions on the bus itself led to dehydration and heat exhaustion.
"The bus rive would not stop to let the kids have anything to drink," said parent Teresa Watson "They were all hot, all dehydrated, my daughter was texting me the whole time,"
Not only did the delay cause the student to miss a large portion of their planned activities, it also wasted the thousands of dollars they had raised for the trip itself.
"We raised together, like $30,000, something like that," said Laskysthell "The buses alone were $10,000,"
In the end, students were rescued by local school buses from Hampshire county.
And while parents have tried reaching out to the bus company, they've had difficulty getting answers.
"I know who the company is cause I looked them up, from what I hear they won't return anybody's calls," said Michael Alligood, the grandfather of one of the students on the trip.
But Teresa Watson says she plans on taking things as far as she has to.
"I'm going to press it as far as I can to have reimbursement from the bus charter, yes I am,"
While the parents would like to see reimbursement they are more upset over the danger their kids lives were in.
"My biggest thing is, they put my child and other kids' life in jeopardy,"
WDTV reached out to the company, Urban Express, who directed us to the company they are contracted under, Metropolitan Shuttle.
We are still waiting for their response.
ORIGINAL STORY (05/16/2019)
Hardy County schools jumped to the rescue Thursday morning after a school group heading to Washington, D.C. found themselves stranded on Route 48 due to bus drivers who hadn't slept in over a day.
Several people reached out to WHSV on Thursday morning with concerns about buses that appeared to be pulled over along Corridor H in Hardy County.
It turns out that Hardy County school officials were helping out a group of students on their way to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. after their bus drivers were unfit to drive.
According to a statement from the Hardy County Sheriff's Office, 911 dispatchers received a call at 7:40 a.m. about two commercial buses seen heading east on Corridor H that were swerving all over the roadway, crossing lines and running off the travel lanes into the shoulders multiple times.
Deputies were dispatched to the scene to carry out a welfare check.
They intercepted them at the 121 mile marker and spoke to those on board.
There, they found out the commercial buses were full of students from Belington, West Virginia, on a field trip to Washington, D.C. But both bus drivers were found to be very groggy, and deputies found out they had each been without sleep for 24 hours.
Passengers confirmed the situation.
Hardy County deputies determined that neither driver should continue without a full night's rest, so they arranged other transportation. The drivers were taken to a nearby Moorefield hotel, and Hardy County Schools Superintendent Van Meter called in local school buses to take the students and chaperones to a safe location, where they waited for the bus company to bring in fresh, well-rested drivers.
The Hardy County Sheriff's Office said they are "happy that the incident was resolved safely and the children and chaperones were able to proceed on their trip with drivers who have had a full night of rest."