Security video: Bus driver gives inside look at Indiana school b -

Security video: Bus driver gives inside look at Indiana school bus as tornado hits

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By KMOV Web Producer By KMOV Web Producer

Watch Joe Arnold's story in the player above or Click to go to the full raw video clip

HENRYVILLE, Ind. (WHAS11) -- Security video of a Henryville school bus shows that three minutes after children stepped off the bus on March 2, a tornado picked it up, heaving it into a diner across the street from Henryville High School.

WHAS11 obtained the video on Thursday after filing an Open Records Request with West Clark Community Schools. Citing privacy concerns, the school district would only release the audio portion of the footage which includes the driver and eleven children on the bus.

The audio reveals a heartpounding race to safety by a number of Henryville school bus drivers, a ten minute dash after classes were dismissed early due to the threat of severe weather.

Sirens are wailing on the video; a time stamp shows that it is 3:14pm.  As the clock turns to 3:15pm, the roar of the tornado grows louder, lightning flashes and debris begins to strike the bus. Then, the 36,000 pound school bus yields to the power of the EF4 tornado.

The bus is swept across the parking lot, slamming into a car.  It's windshield smashed (and later found in the fourth row of the bus), the bus is then lifted and carried across the road, crashing into a diner.

Click to go to the full raw video clip

The bus microphones even pick up the sound of glass breaking inside the restaurant.
On that same bus, #211, just thirteen minutes earlier, eleven children were heading home.

"Are you guys okay?" school bus driver Angel Perry can be heard asking them. "Yeah," the students, a mix of elementary and junior/senior high school students, reply.

Perry and several other school bus drivers are heard on the radio, assessing the danger and scrambling to find a place to take cover.

"10-4. I've got three loads and I'm going to get them there quick," says one driver.
"205 is going to the basement," another driver says on the radio.  "The tornado's coming."

"We're going to go to the Baptist Church too," Perry says.  "I don't know what else to do."
As the skies darken, the chatter increases on the bus and the radio.

Dispatch: I know you're busy -
Child:  We should go back to the school.
Perry:  Shh. Quiet.

At that point, the bus was nearly three miles from school, at the intersection of Henryville-Otisco and Heil Roads, an area that would be devastated by the tornadoes.

"And I stopped the bus for a second, put my hands down and I said, 'Dear Lord, what do I do?'" Perry told WHAS11 in a March 4 interview.

On the bus audio, you can hear Perry as she makes her decision to turn the bus around.

"We're going back to the school," Perry says. It is unclear if she is announcing the decision to the students or to herself.

Perry asks a high schooler for help.
"Count how many kids we have please," Perry asks her.
"Eleven. Thank you so much," Perry says.

Perry:  If anybody needs to call their parents we're going back to the school.
Child: I do. I don't know my parent's phone number.
Perry:  We'll call when we get to school.

The drivers continue to relay their location and what they can see.

"We are going in the Church basement at the Baptist Church," one driver says.  "Call me on my cell phone or I'll call you in a few minutes."
Radio: Henryville - there is a tornado on the ground.
Perry: Tornado on the ground, guys. quiet!
Radio (driver):  I see the tornado on the ground north of the school.
Perry:  If you got a book to put over your head, do it. get in the middle ....
Radio (driver):  67 (dispatch).  This is bus 208.  I do have a safe place to get all the kids, the remaining kids on the bus,
at the (inaudible) House.
Perry: when we get to the school, everybody stay's together!
Radio (dispatch): Yes go ahead. Take them all in the basement.
The low rumble of the bus changing gears and speeding to safety is heard between radio calls.
Radio (driver):  This is 400. I am clear. I got them all home safe... to their homes.
Six minutes into the audio, Perry radios dispatch, again.
Perry:  This is 211 I am about a minute and a half from the school.

Two other drivers key their radios with updates of the tornado.
"I am going to the (redacted) house on (inaudible) road," one driver says. "I see the tornado."
"This is 210 I am on (inaudible) road and I see the tornado touchdown about one mile from me," another driver reports.
"Oh my gosh," Perry responds.
Radio (driver): I am going to tell you what I am going to do.  I'm going to pull off and wait it out.
"I am driving up her driveway right now to take shelter," another driver reports.  "There is a tornado here."

Then, Perry sees it, too.
"There's the tornado right there guys," Perry tells the children. "Look, the funnel cloud."
The school is now within sight of her bus, but she is anxious to get there.
"Don't block me truck.  Don't block me," Perry says.

Despite the funnel cloud bearing down on her, Perry has calm instructions for her precious cargo.
"Guys, we're just going to go as fast as we can into the school."

The bus can be heard stopping in the parking lot of the school.
"Everybody stay together, our group together," Perry says, then urgently sends the children inside.
"Yeah, go go go go!  Go go go go!" She says.
"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven," Perry counts her manifest as they exit the bus.  One child is heard crying as Perry continues.  "Eight, nine.. Come on!  Come on!  Ten, eleven, go! go! go!"
"Sorry," the last child off the bus says.

Just three minutes later, Perry's cell phone still in the driver's seat, the bus is blown away.

Watch Joe Arnold's story in the player above or Click to go to the full raw video clip

 Visit our Kentuckiana Tornado section for the latest photos, stories, news and info on how you can help after the deadly storms.

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