Driver of bus with 35 students crashes, dies, after medical emergency

COACHELLA — A school bus driver who apparently suffered a medical emergency while transporting 35 students later died after bumping into the back of another bus early Friday morning, Dec. 14. This morning’s fatal incident happened in the parking lot of Coachella Valley High School, on the 83800 block of Airport Blvd., according to CHP.

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Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner officials later identified the victim as Oralia Gutierrez Lopez, 42, of Coachella. She was pronounced deceased at John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital nearly an hour after the crash, at 7:24 a.m.

A 42-year-old bus driver died today after a suffering a medical emergency and minor collision. RCNS photo

CHP and other emergency personnel were dispatched to the high school at 6:28 a.m., after receiving reports of a crash involving two buses. 911 callers reported one of the bus drivers had suffered “an unknown medical emergency” while driving her bus, which caused her bus to roll forward into the back of another bus in the parking lot.

Paramedics treated Lopez at the scene before transporting her to JFK, where she later succumbed to her medical condition.

“Due to an unknown medical emergency, the female driver became unconscious and the front of the International school bus struck the rear of (another) school bus,” California Highway Patrol Officer Jackie Quintero later reported. There were 35 students on Lopez’ bus at the time of the minor collision and the other bus was only occupied by its 38-year-old driver. None of the students or other bus driver were injured, according to Quintero, who did not specify the age range of the involved students.

Director of Student Safety and Security, Fredricko Gonzalez, said counselors were being made available to any students who needed them; however, he reiterated no students were injured in the slow-speed collision.

Quintero said it was not yet known what type of medical condition led to this morning’s collision and CHP’s investigation into the crash and Lopez’ death is ongoing.

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Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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