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Garbage Truck-School Bus Accident Kills Two Children

December 6, 1995

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A malfunctioning hydraulic trash compactor blasted through the side of a garbage truck Wednesday and ripped open the side of a passing school bus, killing two children.

A third child was hospitalized in critical condition.

The bus, taking 48 youngsters to an elementary school, was eastbound and the municipal garbage truck was coming from the opposite direction on a busy thoroughfare, police said.

A 12-foot arm which pushes a ram to compact trash inside the truck punched through the side of the vehicle with a force of 1,500 pounds per square inch, said Roland Silva, spokesman for the city Department of Sanitation.

``It was like a missile coming out of a launch pad,″ Silva said.

The arm projecting from the side of the truck then raked the left side of the oncoming bus, smashing windows and bending frame posts, said Officer Rhett Price of the California Highway Patrol.

``We’ve never had something like this happen to one of our trucks,″ Silva said. ``It was a very freakish thing.″

``We’re going to take this thing apart bolt by bolt,″ said City Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg.

The deaths were the first aboard a bus in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest, said district spokeswoman Ria Parody.

An 8-year-old boy, whose name was withheld, was in critical condition with a head injury, said Ron Yukelson, spokesman for Childrens Hospital. The other youngsters escaped with minor injuries, authorities said.

Truck driver Kenneth Fox, 28, was distraught.

``He was crying because he saw the babies on the street,″ said a witness, Juan Francisco.

Customers ran from a nearby gas station to help.

``I heard a lot of screams and crying,″ said Paul Gulrajani, who works at the station. ``The kids looked scared, frightened. It was a very emotional scene.″

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