PLENTYWOOD — On Sept. 8, the Plentywood volleyball bus, carrying players and coaches, was involved in an accident returning home from a tournament.
The bus struck a single-passenger car on Highway 16 around 6 p.m. According to Plentywood superintendent and athletic director Matt Torix, a southbound vehicle turned in front of the bus and was essentially broadsided at 55 miles per hour.
According to the Associated Press, 36-year-old Shawn Hove of Plentywood was driving the car. The AP reported Hove was cited for his fourth or subsequent DUI and not wearing a seat belt. Hove has since been released from the hospital.
“Three kids ended up in the emergency room just to get checked out. After that, everyone gets a little nervous,” Torix said. “A couple of kids got follow-up X-rays, everything was negative, kids were released that night. No long-term injuries. Sore kids on Sunday and Monday, but it wasn’t anything the kids weren’t going to walk away from. Just lucky. We’re lucky.”
Torix also said that emergency medical personnel, law enforcement and the fire department praised the Plentywood bus driver for keeping the bus upright. Often in that situation, the bus will roll and go into the ditch.
The kids have been resilient following the accident, but Torix and the Plentywood staff are keeping an eye on the students to help where they can. Torix points out that while it was a horrible situation for all involved, it wasn’t a catastrophic event.
“Kids recover quick. There’s probably some frustration because this is the kind of thing that can be prevented through the use of some common sense,” Torix said. “I feel horrible for the kids that this had to happen to them. We have very tough kids. … The kids understand this is something that happens. Everyone is ok, and everyone is saying their blessings and taking care of each other.”
Torix also believes that this can be used as a teachable moment for kids and adults, not only in Plentywood, but across the entire state.
“It’s a good thing to teach about driving safe, driving without being distracted. Obviously, driving under the influence is wrong, but also you can use it to talk about texting and driving, fatigued driving, all that,” Torix said. “You can use it as a little bit of a learning event and be happy that we didn’t have any major injuries.”
The Plentywood volleyball team is 3-4 on the season and won conference matches over Bainville and Culbertson in the week after the crash. The Wildcats play at Culbertson on Friday and host undefeated Fairview on Saturday.