Channel 13 has obtained emails and sworn statements from people who complained about Riverside Community School District bus driver, Donnie Hendricks prior to an accident that killed Hendricks and his lone passenger, 16-year-old Megan Klindt.
“A lot of people knew this guy was in tough shape and had concern that he shouldn’t be driving the bus,” says Brad Schroeder, the attorney for Natalie and Glen Klindt.
Schroeder says at least a dozen people complained about Hendricks’ driving.
An email to the Riverside Superintendent, Dr. Tim Mitchell, two weeks prior to the accident says “Hendricks drove through four stop signs.”
A month before that, a parent emailed Mitchell that Hendricks had “backed over a support cable on a power pole.” In another incident, he “nearly tipped the bus in the ditch.” That parent pulled her kids off the bus.
So did Doug Reed, the Pottawattamie County Emergency Management Director. He had concerns about Hendricks’ health and his use of a walker to get around.
The Superintendent himself expressed concern after Hendricks hit his truck. The school secretary says Mitchell told her, “I have to get him out of the bus before he kills somebody.”
“That’s bone-chilling to me,” says Schroeder.
On December 12, 2017 Hendricks and Klindt burned to death, after Hendricks backed into a ditch across from Megan Klindt’s home. Her own mother called 911.
“I just wish I could’ve been there,” says Glen Klindt, Megan’s father. “Somehow I’d have gotten in that bus.”
No one knows why Megan couldn’t get off the bus, but the Iowa Department of Education is now considering stricter guidelines on emergency evacuation drills for students.
“The rule has been pretty general and what we’re doing is making it more specific, stating when those should take place – one in the fall and one in the spring,” says Max Christensen the Director of Transportation for the Department of Education. “And then also the documentation should be kept of those emergency evacuations.”
Christensen the regulations will like take effect in the fall.
It’s too late for the Klindts, but the new rules may prevent other families from experiencing their pain.
“I don’t wish that on nobody,” says Glen Klindt.