On the return of the Egret’s Perch camping trip to Morro Bay on October 9th, the cargo van, Van O White spun out of control after one of the front tires popped on the highway. Adelaide Nalley, Director of Field Studies, was driving the cargo van when the incident occurred.
“I have never had anything like this happen before on the freeway,” said Nalley. “Lots of things have happened to me in my life–lots of scary things or unexpected things. But I’ve definitely never had a wheel blow while I was driving, and I’ve never spun or lost control on the freeway. So that was new and different.”
She continued by saying, “After the tire popped I wasn’t sure what happened. I felt something and then the van started to veer to the right. I got close to the edge and thought, ‘Oh, that’s not good,’ and I tried to correct it and veered pretty far to the left. Then luckily all the other cars stopped behind me, which was great because that’s what kept everyone safe.” The van was towed to make sure that no damage resulted from the accident. It turns out that no other damage was done.
Sal Lagunas, Director of Operations, says all the vans are in good condition and records of the vans are available for anyone who wants to see them. “I welcomed and emailed the entire school community to come in and inspect the records and we actually had two families who came in and checked them out.”
Lagunas says the tires on the vans are checked regularly. “The vans are checked before and after every camping trip,” he said. “The tires on that particular van still had plenty of tread and they were in good condition. They’re a specific type of cargo tire.”No one knows why the tire on the van popped, tires on any vehicle could pop.”
When asked if camping trip routines will change due to this incident, Lagunas responded, “Every incident, whether it’s a scary incident or just an incident, always allows a school, in particular, to reflect and improve and to be honest the answer is yes, of course there’s always going to be reflection about what happens and just try to do a better job and be more diligent.”
The ages of the vans vary from one to eighteen years. “One of the things we are changing or re-focusing on Lagunas says that Operations is trying “…to come up with a specific time frame whether it be mileage or age and get newer vans.” Nalley said that even the oldest vans have good maintenance records, though in the older vans something small, like the radio might not work as well as it would in a newer van.
On November 13th there was a safety meeting where the parents and staff discussed safety on all trips, including van safety. This meeting was scheduled so the school could address concerns from parents.
Aaron Neubert, Egret’s Perch parent said, “I was standing next to Adelaide, when we were packing the truck, and she said “Don’t cover the spare tire, cause we might need it.” Neubert said that he found out about the popped tire, after his son, Penn Neubert, told him once the camping trip had returned. He also said that he does not have any concerns about future camping trips, even after this event.