Car crashes into school bus in fog on Sutter County highway; CHP says three with minor injuries

Three people, including two students, suffered minor injuries Thursday morning when a car crashed into a school bus amid heavy fog conditions on a rural highway in Sutter County.

The crash occurred about 7:30 a.m. in the T-intersection of Highway 20 and South Tarke Road just east of the small town of Meridian, the California Highway Patrol reported.

A 64-year-old Marysville man was driving the yellow school bus for the Meridian Elementary School District with 19 children passengers, the CHP Yuba-Sutter office announced Thursday afternoon in a news release. The bus’ rooftop fog strobe light was activated, along with its headlights.

The school bus was heading north on South Tarke and stopped at the intersection with the highway. The CHP said a 29-year-old Colusa man was driving a 2014 Ford Fusion east on Highway 20 and approaching South Tarke at about 60 mph in fog with about 200 feet of visibility.

Highway 20 has two lanes along with a left-turn lane to South Tarke with a posted speed limit of 55 mph. South Tarke is controlled by a stop sign at the T-intersection; the highway has no stop signs there.

The school bus driver did not see any vehicles of headlights approaching from either direction on the highway and began to turn left onto the highway’s westbound lane, according to the CHP news release.

The CHP said after the Ford Fusion driver saw the school bus, he was unable to slow or stop in time to avoid the collision. The car crashed into the school bus’ left rear.

Two students, an 11-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, had complaints of pain and were taken by ambulance to Adventist Health and Rideout hospital in Marysville, CHP officials said. The Ford Fusion driver also had complaints of pain and was taken to the hospital.

One of the responding CHP officers reported he was only comfortable driving 50 mph in the heavy fog while heading to the crash site with activated emergency lights and siren, according to the news release. Numerous parents arrived at the scene after hearing of the school bus crash, CHP officials said.

The CHP reminded drivers to adjust their speed in adverse driving conditions, and drivers are also required to turn on their headlights during inclement weather.

“Posted speed limits may be too fast for heavy fog, rain, snow, etc.,” the CHP said in the news release. “Daytime running lights are not a substitute. Without the headlights being manually activated, the rear lights of the vehicle will not be illuminated. Headlights and taillights greatly increase your vehicle’s visibility to other drivers.”