Arlington School Bus Hits Elderly Woman

by ARLnow.com October 18, 2010 at 11:39 am 3,006 25 Comments

Update at 12:25 p.m. on 10/19 — The victim, 89-year-old Louise Gabel of Falls Church, died last night. Police are still investigating the incident. So far, no charges have been filed against the bus driver.

An elderly woman is in critical condition after being struck by an Arlington County school bus.

It happened at 7:30 a.m. at the intersection of Carlin Springs Road and 8th Road South. Police say the woman was crossing the intersection when she was struck. She’s currently in critical condition at a local hospital.

Twelve children were on board the bus at the time of the accident, police said. They were not injured.

“The accident is still under investigation, and more details will be released when available,” police said in a statement. The school system is planning to release a statement letter to parents regarding the accident later today, according to Arlington Public Schools spokesperson Frank Bellavia.

The bus has been impounded by police pending the investigation.

Flickr pool photo by afagen

  • Crabhands

    To state the obvious but, the downslope of that road as it nears Columbia Pike is not pedestrian friendly at all.

    No obvious fixes either. At least I can’t think of any.

    • youareadouchebag

      the FIXES are obvious.. people should understand the laws and restrictions.. none of them follow this!

      there are reasons why there’s posted limits and restrictions for each registration of vehicular licensing….


      people’s ignorance on driving laws are award winning!

      yeh, why not eat and talk at the same time… that’s just for starters! and that’s just for low occupancy vehicles! you do realize you’re not even suppose to have food, phone or drink in the car! and high occupancy vehicles are suppose to have a driver and an assistant! betcha didn’t know that either!

      what? you have a DVD player in you multipurpose vehicle?

      what next? you TEXT?

      hummm? learn about the laws.. this all should be prosecutable, read up people and i wish folks would get fined or some jail time with court proceedings but no the way things are handled now days.. companies should be fined also….

      forget it, you’re right, no way to fix this!

      you’re a freaking genius!

      (claps hands)

      once the laws have been questioned.. we’re all screwed.

      • youareadouchebag

        AND….. don’t get me started on red light runners…

        underfreakingstood now? you DIG?

  • Arlington

    I see ACPS buses pulling unsafe stunts all the time. Whether pulling out in front of traffic because they are bigger — or stopping in the middle of the road for no clear reason other than to let another bus in from a side street — they are unsafe. Not surprised they hit someone.

    • BoredHouseWife

      I haven’t seen School buses pull that,but Metro buses, that’s another story.

      • youareadouchebag

        yeh, keep ‘not seeing’ and end up like a waffle.

    • CMG

      dangerous yes, but the worst by far are the Reston Limousine shuttle busses and Marymount Univ busses.

      • Katie

        You’re right about the Reston Limos–I’ve seen some really bad driving from them.

  • rob42

    What is it with the DC metro area and buses running over pedestrians? I’m afraid to walk around here.

    • RestonRunner86

      It’s a vast right-wing conspiracy to try to entice everyone to buy larger and larger vehicles to put more money into the pockets of oil interests, of course! All of the pedestrians struck lately and those drivers who struck them were decoys in a grand scheme to frighten everyone.

      Naturally I’m being facetious, but I do agree that this area could stand a LOT of improvements for pedestrians and cyclists, ESPECIALLY outside the Beltway where everyone thinks cars are somehow “superior” to other methods of transport. Nevertheless VDOT is spending a half-billion dollars to retrofit the I-66/Route 29 interchange to appease exurban solo commuters in Gainesville. Priorities?

  • Let’s Be Free

    The following has been circulated to kids at Campbell School, which is a couple of blocks from the scene of the accident.

    Dear Campbell Parents,

    The following information from Ms. Mantilla, Campbell’s school counselor, has
    been shared with Campbell staff members too:

    As many of you know, there was a bus accident this morning very close to
    Campbell. The accident did not involve any of the students, parents, staff, or
    buses of Campbell, but did involve, as parents have told us, an Arlington County
    Public Schools bus. Some of the staff and parents who brought their children to
    Campbell saw the accident and said it was very tragic. Please be aware that
    some Campbell students may have seen the aftermath of the accident as they were
    on their way to school. Classroom teachers have been made aware that children
    might talk about what they saw throughout the school day. Parents might
    experience children talking about it when they come home this afternoon. Please
    try to help students deal with what they might have seen by expressing your own
    feelings of empathy for the people involved in the accident; help the children
    not to cover up their emotions, they should be able to express what they are
    feeling (anxiety, fear, worry….normal responses to a stressful situation); and
    perhaps more importantly, do not try to cheer them up. It is important for them
    to acknowledge their feelings and practice handling these. Drawing, playing,
    painting, reading, exercise and music are some of the activities which can help
    them to handle their feelings.

    At this time, we have not received any additional information from the school
    system. When additional information is provided, we will pass it along to our

    Thank you for assistance,

    Karen Anselmo

    • alebt

      Contrasting the replies of representatives of Claremont and Campbell, I am amazed by the difference in style and tone. The Claremont principal is caring and concrete in her response. The Campbell representative appears to use this situation to send parents her own pop psychology lesson: “perhaps more importantly, do not attempt to cheer them up.” If my child witnessed the event, I would like to know what the facts were first and foremost.

    • Blueloom

      I would have liked to have seen some concern in this msg to the parents for the pedestrian who was struck. A simple “Our thoughts are with the family of the pedestrian” would do it for me.

  • Susan

    Metrobuses are terrible too! After they finish loading or unloading, they don’t even look a lot of the time, they just pull right out in front of you! I almost got hit by one yesterday, he was pulled over to the side, and as I got almost up to him, he started to pull right into my lane, no turn signal, no looking, no nothing.Seems like my reflexes are still pretty good!

    • RestonRunner86

      Ditto some of the RIBS buses in Reston. I live near a side street that also happens to be a bus route. People tend to park their vehicles along both sides of this street, meaning it’s very narrow for vehicles to pass in the middle. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been cut off by oncoming buses who pass parked vehicles in their lanes before yielding to unobstructed oncoming traffic, as they’re supposed to. I was also nearly struck by a Metrobus along Route 7 Westbound in Seven Corners once when the driver did just as you said—pulled into my right-hand lane after leaving a bus stop without using a turn signal and without looking.

      This is a VERY dangerous area to be either a pedestrian, cyclist, OR a driver of a small car or motorcycle!

    • Lou

      A Metro bus tried to pull away from my stop once before I could get there; pretty sure he saw me but they’re just passive-aggressive like that. So as I am paying my fare the driver turns and chastises me for running after a bus because “it’s dangerous”. As he’s doing this, he pulls out into traffic, still looking at me, and almost hits a car.

      • RestonRunner86

        Sounds about right.

  • Let’s Be Free

    See below. It was a Claremont Elementary bus. Prayers for the victim. So sad that young kids had to experience this.

    October 18, 2010

    Dear Parents:

    It is with great sadness that we inform you that a pedestrian was seriously
    injured in a bus accident this morning in our community. No children were harmed
    in the accident. The accident involved APS school bus route #410 which was
    transporting students to Claremont Elementary, and occurred at the intersection
    of South 8th Road and Carlin Springs Road. The pedestrian remains hospitalized
    in critical condition.

    This morning, Ms. Burnett and I met with the students to discuss what had
    occurred. The school Pupil Services team, consisting of a counselor, two
    psychologists and a social worker, were also on site to provide support to
    students. There will be individual follow-up with students as needed in the days

    When accidents like this occur, children often express their feelings and
    experiences. Some children may hear about the accident and may want to share
    personal information about accidents that have affected them personally.

    Please be alert over the next several days to symptoms of delayed reaction,
    • A desire to be alone, unusually quiet
    • Loss of appetite
    • Problems with sleeping or nightmares
    • Difficulty with concentration
    • Crying
    • Angry outbursts, short temper
    • Headaches, upset stomach

    If your child exhibits any of these symptoms or expresses concerns and feelings
    about accidents or life changes we encourage you to discuss them with your
    child. Please be assured that staff members will continue to be available to
    support students and parents as needed.

    The accident is still under investigation, and more details will be released by
    the police when available. Police ask that anyone who witnessed the accident or
    has information relating to this incident call Detective Paul Marseilles at
    (703) 228-4237.

    As always, please feel free to contact us at school if you have any questions or
    have concerns about your child.


    Cintia Johnston

  • Skeptical

    And here my friends say I’m grumpy because I believe in a Darwinian approach to school buses, that is, if the kids are too dense to look both ways before crossing the street, let traffic pick ’em off instead of everyone having to stop behind the bus while every last little Mortimer and Iodine, even the fifteen-year-old ones, gets out. Well, seriously? Does the law make us stop like that for Metrobuses which could be discharging the old and infirm? What makes school-children that much more precious than anyone else?

    Now we find out the school bus drivers are prepared to mow people down, kids aboard and all. I throw up my hands.

  • Sad

    She was a wonderful woman, that dedicated her life to Arlington Public Schools. 65 YEARS of devotion. She came to Carlin Springs everyday and worked with many students. My heart is with her family.

    • RestonRunner86

      “WAS”? Oh no! Does this mean she didn’t survive?! I’m so sorry to hear this! My thoughts and prayers go out to all those whom the victim helped to touch over the years. She sounds like she was a wonderful woman. I also urge everyone to keep the bus driver in your thoughts, as I don’t know how I’d be able to live with myself knowing I killed someone while behind the wheel.

  • Bill

    Louise Gabel was not an elderly woman. She may have been 89 years old, but she was a vibrant woman who swam every day, walked to her school and had the same energy and passion for teaching and empowering children as she did at 39. This tragic accident happened as she was on her way to her school, bright and early like every other school day for the last 50 years. She was taken way too soon for her family, for her friends and for her students.

    This was said of her last year as she was awarded the Ellen M. Bozman Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in support of Carlin Springs Elementary School:
    “Louise is one of my special heroes – an exemplary human being,” said Karen Gruver, a first-grade teacher at the school. “I am amazed at the example she sets for me – so alive, alert, interested, involved and current on community activities as well as those of world concern. All this with a lovely, gentle, giving heart.”

    • Judy

      I was very sad to hear about Mrs. Gabel. She was my 3rd grade teacher 40 years ago at Claremont Elementary. She also taught all my brothers and sisters. She will be greatly missed by everyone in my family.

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