A bus bringing children home from Chasidei Ger’s Camp Yaadir crashed into a closed gas station. B’chasdei Hashem, not only were there no injuries, but a possible tragedy was averted.
The bus, carrying 51 boys between the ages of five and ten, was traveling down 18th Avenue at around 5 p.m., when the driver realized that he was not able to brake.
“The driver tried to stop at the light at 53rd Street, but went right through and crashed into two vans,” said Mr. Simcha Bunim Kain, the bus rebbi. “I realized that something was wrong and made sure that all of the kids were sitting right away.”
Kain said that the driver did all he could to guide the bus safely, but the emergency brake failed as well.
The vehicle glided for seven blocks, from 53rd Street to 60th Street, swerving left and right as the only means of avoiding further damage. Realizing that there was no mechanical way to stop the bus, the driver took the chance of turning into the boarded-up gas station.
Mr. Shlomo Roth, head counselor, came to the scene right away with water and freeze-pops to calm the shaken children. The police, the fire department, and Hatzolah responded soon after.
“There were two nissim here,” said Mr. Menachem Garfinkel, assistant administrator of Yeshivas Yagdil Torah, the parent school of Camp Yaadir. “Firstly, the wooden boards on the gas station are very thin. It was only through siyatta d’Shmaya that they were able to stop the bus at all.”
“What’s more,” he continued, “This bus was supposed to be used by our girl’s camp, which went on a trip out of town. What would have happened if the brakes had failed on the highway?” Garfinkel explained that since the girls were planning to travel a longer distance, the camp decided to give them an air-conditioned bus; the two divisions switched buses.
“The most important lesson of the story is how important it is for kids to always sit on the bus,” said Roth. “You never know when something could happen. If a child is sitting, he is already much safer.”