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Troubleshooters: JCPS focuses on wet weather driving following hydroplane crashes

While neither driver in the hydroplane crashes were cited by police, the crash reports in both cases said the drivers were partly to blame.
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 12:23 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - JCPS bus drivers were retrained on basic driving in wet weather following two hydroplane crashes at the end of the school year.

The Chief Operations Officers for the district said two bus crashes in a month are unheard of.

Neither driver was cited by police for the two hydroplane crashes in May, but police said the drivers contributed to the cause of those crashes.

“You’re not going to die, calm down, you’re not going to die,” a dispatcher said in a 911 recording on May 3 after a JCPS bus hydroplaned and crashed on I-64. The terrified students on bus 2015 would not be the only ones to experience a hydroplane crash while in JCPS’s care.

On May 26, the driver of bus 1758 lost control on the Gene Snyder Freeway, crashing into the grassy median.

“It was definitely a focal point that’s pretty unheard of,” JCPS Chief Operations Officer Chris Perkins said. “Matter of fact, no one had heard of two hydroplanes in one month.”

He said all school bus drivers were given a refresher course on wet weather driving the week after school let out.

“We reiterated the section on the fundamentals of driving, especially on wet road conditions,” Perkins said.

While neither driver in the hydroplane crashes were cited by police, the crash reports in both cases said the drivers were partly to blame.

The officer wrote “not under proper control” for Rosa Ruff, driver of the I-64 bus crash.

Police noted “driving too fast for conditions” for Curtaysa Smith, the driver of the I-265 bus crash.

Court records show both drivers have a few tickets on their records.

Ruff was cited for no insurance in 1999. Smith was cited for speeding 82 in a 55 mph zone in 2018, but the charge was amended down to reckless driving. She was also cited for not having insurance. In 2019, she was cited for reckless driving.

“Our expectation is safety comes first no matter what,” Perkins said.

WAVE News Troubleshooters asked JCPS for copies of their school driving records.

Ruff has been involved in 13 crashes over her 17-year career. All crashes were very minor fender benders, except for the I-64 rollover.

Smith has a similar, although much shorter, record. She was hired in 2020 and has been involved in five crashes. JCPS records show an accident review committee stressed she needed more training, including most recently following a crash in June 2021.

“If there’s a specific type of incident we see trends in, we can be very targeted in our types of support or training that we need to provide each driver,” Perkins said.

That accident review committee won’t meet for either hydroplane crash until the start of school in the fall. Drivers aren’t required to participate in them.

Both busses also passed their mechanical inspections.

JCPS said both drivers remain on the payroll and want to continue driving.

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