One hundred and thirty students from Fort Hamilton High School (8301 Shore Road) were stranded on a Florida highway overnight after their charter bus broke down early Monday morning..
The kids were returning from Disney World, where they competed in a Disney Music Festival, when one of the two buses carrying the students broke down on Insterstate 4, just outside of Orlando.
The students were stuck for more than eight hours without power or air conditioning after the mechanical failure. Rather than split the kids up and let the functioning bus go on its way, Assistant Principal Tom Oberle decided to keep both buses together for their safety.
At approximately 9:30 a.m., a replacement charter bus arrived, allowing them to transfer and be on their way.
They got back to the school early Tuesday morning, safe and sound.
One of the student’s mothers wrote to Bensonhurst Bean about the ordeal, and praised Oberle for effectively managing the situation:
My daughter is a member of the FHHS Orchestra and is on the bus.
I spoke to my daughter early this morning, who said they slept on the bus on the side of the road awaiting the new bus which finally came at around 8:30 this morning. I lost communication with her as her cell phone battery died during the long wait for the new bus, however, I am confident in her safety with Mr. Oberle, the assistant Principal and Staff Chaperones.
The Principal and parent coordinator assured us through email and phone messages(see below) that safety and care is their number one priority.
Students will be provided food and beverages for everyone during the extended travel by the school . She said they will be excused from school tommorrow, but have to make up the work they missed.
I commend Tom Oberle, the assistant principal and Staff Chaparones for keeping the students calm and safe during the ordeal.
I can’t wait till their arrival this morning between 3 and 5 AM and finally breath a sigh of relief that they are home safe!
Here is the letter the principal sent out to the students’ families:
Dear Parents of Students on the Festival Disney Trip:
By now you have heard from your child about the delay in their return to Brooklyn from the Florida trip. The bus break down was unfortunate, but more problematic was the long wait for a replacement bus. Please know that Mr. Oberle has consistently pressed the bus company for more immediate responsiveness and information since the bus broke down late Sunday evening. We have been working together since early this morning and finally have confirmation that students are back on the road as of 9:30am today, Monday, March 24.
We are sorry about the inconvenience, but this is what we expect regarding students’ return to school:
3/24/14 9:30am Back on road to NYC
6:30pm Arrive Fayetteville, NC to exchange temporary bus with Coach USA bus for remainder of trip back to NYC
3/25/14 3:00am Expected arrival at Fort Hamilton HS.
Students will be excused from classes as though they were still involved in the trip, but they will need to make up the work.
The expected return of 3am may be modified once they are further into the trip. Please stay in touch with your child via cell or other means.
The safety and care for your children continues to be the number one priority. Resources to provide food and beverages for everyone during the extended travel will be covered by the school.
The delay in return also puts a delay in celebrating the students’ success in the competition, but we are proud of every student and staff member who participated in the Disney competition. Thank you for continued trust. Please let me know if you have questions.