Fatal Iowa School Bus Fire Was Preventable. Here's How Safety Could Improve.

June 24, 2019 AT 7:48 AM

By Shelby Fleig

Federal investigators this week said a fatal Iowa school bus fire in 2017 could have been prevented by stricter safety standards, including a fire suppression system.

Higher standards for drivers' fitness for duty, emergency training and fire safety could have prevented the accident — in which the 74-year-old driver reversed into a drainage ditch, causing the bus to become stuck — the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Tuesday.

The federal guidelines for bus fire safety haven't been significantly updated in nearly 50 years, according to the NTSB.

Bus driver Donald Hendricks and his sole passenger, 16-year-old Megan Klindt, died from smoke and soot inhalation after the engine caught fire outside Klindt's rural Pottawattamie County home.

"Fire suppression systems, fire-resistant interior materials and improved fire safety performance standards could have provided more time for the driver and the student in this tragedy," NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said.

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