Two separate incidents in the vicinity of Malcolm X Elementary School on Monday morning brought traffic to a standstill on Ashby Avenue, a state highway, and provoked significant presence from emergency responders and utility agencies.
Police blocked off an area around King Street after a power line came down, according to BUSD spokesman Mark Coplan. At around 8 a.m., a bicyclist ran into the back of a school bus that was on Ashby adjacent to the school campus, according to CHP spokesman Sean Wilkenfeld. There were no injuries, either to the cyclist or to any students on the bus, but protocol has it that the bus has to stay in place until the California Highway Patrol arrives, therefore the highway was blocked.
“The children were kept on the bus in order for us to document who was on the bus and their exact position at the time of the collision,” Wilkenfeld said. “In addition, it’s easiest to keep the kids safe on the bus in a case like this as opposed to having a large group of kids standing on the sidewalk where they can wander off or into the roadway.”
The combination of the two separate incidents happening around school drop-off time made for a dramatic, and potentially concerning, scene. People said it looked like the school was under siege, said Coplan.
On a neighborhood message board, someone who had witnessed the scene, wrote: “Fire engines, CHP, OPD, crime tape. Bus full of kids parked on Ashby with hazard lights on. School yard empty. Hope everybody’s okay over there!”
According to Coplan, PG&E were able to deal with the downed line and traffic on Ashby was flowing normally again fairly soon. The CHP investigation was completed around 9 a.m.
“No students were impacted,” Coplan said.
Coplan added that the police were already on scene near the school when the incidents were ongoing, and are keeping a closer eye than usual across BUSD campuses, following reports last week of two attempted abductions near the Willard Middle School campus.
Friday also saw a possible attempted student abduction in neighboring Albany. On Sunday, Valerie Williams, Superintendent of the Albany School District, wrote to the school community: “It has come to our attention that one of our Marin elementary students was approached by a man in a light colored car on Friday near Portland and Carmel while she was on her way to school. The student is safe, her parents were notified, and the police were contacted. We do not know if it is the same person who attempted the abduction of a Berkeley student,” she wrote in an email. Marin Elementary is on Santa Fe Avenue at Marin, north of the Berkeley border.
Berkeley schools on alert after two attempted abductions (09.18.15)
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