One of the children airlifted to hospital in Edmonton following Monday’s school bus crash near Smoky Lake could be going home as soon as this weekend.
“The real scary part is over,” Jered Serben said Thursday night about his son Jedd.
Jedd and his little brother Jacob were both on the bus heading to H.A. Kostash School on Monday morning when it was involved in a collision with a picker truck. Both vehicles came to rest on the Serben Farms property.
Jedd, 12, suffered serious injuries in the crash: a broken femur, collapsed lung, cracked pelvis, fractured vertebra, internal organ lacerations, and required blood transfusions.
Doctors operated on his broken leg. Serben said his son is out of the ICU at the Stollery Children’s Hospital and doing quite well.
“In the beginning, it was obviously quite scary and a lot of unknowns. Now things have settled down, as far as knowing the recovery process and what is going to be happening.”
Jedd can’t put any weight on his injured leg, but was able to stand with the help of a walker, which Serben said was “a real plus from just a few days ago.”
Serben said his son could return home as early as Saturday, but doctors don’t want to rush it.
“They want to make sure he’s sturdy enough and he’s learned the tools he’s going to need to get around,” Serben said about his son, who normally helps out on the family farm with chores like collecting eggs.
Jacob, 7, suffered bruises and a minor concussion, and was released from hospital shortly after the collision.
Serben said he is focusing on being strong for his kids and helping them heal.
“They’ve done remarkably well, considering what’s happened.
“I think it’s important to focus on them getting better and understanding that they were in a collision — but they’re alive and they’re going to heal, and they’re going to recover and everybody’s behind them.”
Serben spoke to Global News from their home near Smoky Lake, located about 100 kilometres northeast of Edmonton. He’s returned home to take care of the farm and his two younger children, while his wife remained in Edmonton by Jedd’s side.
The family runs Serben Farms just west of Smoky Lake, raising cows, hogs and chickens and running their own butcher’s shop – and farm life doesn’t stop when emergencies happen.
“We’ve had a lot of help and support from friends, family and neighbours. We couldn’t do this without them.”
The family is thankful for the help from the community of about 1,000 people.
“We have not cooked a meal in four days,” Serben said, adding they’ve also had help with laundry and chores.
“I’m happy that the kids, in the big picture, are going to be OK. They’ll make their recoveries. We didn’t lose anybody. But it’s been horrific for everybody.”
RCMP said their initial investigation revealed the school bus stopped at a stop sign as it approached Highway 28, but then proceeded into the intersection before being hit by the picker truck. Investigators say road and weather conditions were clear at the time of the crash.
Five of the 14 students on the bus were taken to hospital in Edmonton Monday in critical condition. Several others were injured in the crash.
Serben wants to see changes his kid’s bus route.
“A good starting point would be the highways, to have a north route and a south route and try to minimize crossing major highways.”
But he is also concerned about other people’s children too. Hundreds of busses pick up kids from rural properties across the province.
“There needs to be different bus routing. We don’t need to be crossing major highways several times.
“I think that is an important note out of this collision, is that highways are dangerous and especially crossing highways is dangerous. We’re going to learn from this and try to make it safer for everybody.”
Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver said Wednesday work is underway to review school bus safety, in consultation with the federal transportation minister and the other jurisdictions across Canada.