Community helps UW students after bus accident
One of six buses carrying members of the University of Washington marching band heading to Pullman for the Apple Cup overturned on eastbound Interstate 90 near milepost 143 Thursday night.
More than 40 students suffered various injuries, although none was considered life-threatening.
Nevertheless, the UW marching band decided to stay in Grant County with their injured members and skip the trip to Pullman, where the football teams of the UW and Washington State University would face off in the annual Apple Cup game.
According to tweets from the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, a variety of emergency agencies collaborated in the rescue of the injured passengers: Four fire districts, including Grant County Fire District 3, the Ephrata Fire Department, American Medical Rescue, Washington State Patrol and the GCSO were among the agencies involved.
“Everybody chipped in,” said John Boyd, superintendent of Quincy public schools, who was involved early, as one of the district’s principals was traveling with the band. “You have Moses Lake Community Health, the school district, the communities of Quincy and George, the fire departments.”
Also involved were scores of private residents, who offered all kinds of support to the people traveling in the other buses. After those students were transported to George Elementary School, people from around the area brought blankets, hot food and drinks for them straight from their Thanksgiving dinner. More than 280 members and staff from the band were housed temporarily at George Elementary before being moved to hotels in Moses Lake and nearby areas.
The outpouring of support continued well into Friday, with Moses Lake Community Health sending counselors for the students, Boyd said.
Marcus Pimpleton, principal of Quincy High School, is one of the part-time assistant directors of the UW marching band and was in the fourth bus in the six-bus caravan, right behind the one that rolled over. Icy roads and darkness probably contributed to the accident, Pimpleton said.
He praised the response from the Quincy and George communities, helping out students in need, not just with food, but with the food services truck of the Quincy School District gathering up the students’ instruments and taking them to George Elementary.
It was still Thanksgiving, and the food flowed.
“We were remarkably able to feed everybody,” he said. “Even as we were leaving, people were still arriving, bringing in food” to the school in George, the community nearest to the incident.
Boyd agreed. “In the heart of Wazzu, Coug Country, we had all these people coming forward helping the Husky marching band,” he said, a testament to how “our community comes together to the aid of anybody and everybody.”
Pimpleton had driven to Seattle to travel to the Apple Cup in Pullman with the rest of the band. He didn’t want to leave his dogs alone, so he took them to his sister’s place in Seattle, and he thought it would be safer to ride the bus caravan than to try and drive to Pullman solo.
The trip had been uneventful up until that point, Pimpleton said, but the weather had begun to change for the worse in the time prior to the accident.
“I didn’t really see the bus start to lose control until our bus driver had reacted to what had happened, then we looked up and saw what had happened,” he said. “It was tough seeing it on the side like that, seeing kids coming out of it, but it was also really encouraging to see the way kids started helping each other.”
After the accident, Pimpleton contacted Boyd, who contacted the George Elementary custodian, Carol Leibelt, to get the elementary school open. Leibelt declined to comment for this article.
Shortly thereafter, the trip was officially canceled.
“We had people injured in multiple hospitals,” Pimpleton said, “and our band leadership got us housing in Moses Lake, and the decision was made to just stay in Moses Lake. We will be watching the game together tonight in Moses Lake.”
The injured students are “remarkably upbeat,” Pimpleton said.
Lastly, Pimpleton confirmed that the Washington State University marching band planned to play the UW fight song as part of its pregame performances.
By Sebastian Moraga, firstname.lastname@example.org
Some passengers in the bus accident were taken to Quincy.
Quincy Valley Medical Center’s CEO, Glenda Bishop, said QVMC activated its trauma response system, calling in additional staff in all departments.
“We appreciated the exceptional coordination between all responding agencies. Once again, our community met an exceptional need with extraordinary care and compassion,” Bishop stated in an email.
Sixteen patients from the bus accident were received by QVMC. Fifteen of the patients were discharged by early Friday morning. One patient was transferred to a higher level of care due to more serious injuries, Bishop stated.