Local teen survives California bus wreck Brooklyn Park Girl Scout, 17, stable after bus overturns on mountainside.

August 02, 1991|By Meredith Schlow | Meredith Schlow,Evening Sun Staff The Los Angeles Times contributed to this story.

A California camping expedition that Shelley Bussey's aunt called a "dream trip" turned into a nightmare for the 17-year-old Brooklyn Park Girl Scout.

Shelly Bussey was one of the surviving passengers on the school bus that overturned Wednesday on a mountain road near Palm Springs and went into a ravine, killing seven people and injuring the remaining 53 aboard.

Bussey, whom her aunt describes as a "a very giving person," was in stable condition in the intensive care unit at the Eisenhower Medical Center outside Palm Springs.

Four teen-agers, two chaperones and the bus driver were killed. The bus was one of three carrying 104 Girl Scouts on the camping trip.

Among the injured, 11 were listed in critical condition, with three on life-support systems.

Investigators, including several from the National Transportation Safety Board, continued to focus on brake failure as the likely cause of the accident. Several of the 60 girls and Scout supervisors on the bus heard the driver shout that he had lost his brakes shortly before the bus careened off a narrow road in the foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains, 100 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Bussey was one of the scouts selected from 600 applicants for the "California Dreamin' " camping expedition, organized by the Spanish Trails Girl Scout Council.

Bussey's parents, Debra and Phillip Todd, flew to California yesterday to be with their daughter.

Bussey's aunt, who asked not to be named, said Debra Todd reported that in spite of her injuries, Bussey was alert and recognized her family.

"They have her face packed in ice," the aunt said, adding that doctors want some of the swelling to go down before they operate on Bussey's nose, which was broken in the accident.

Some of her teeth were damaged and a bone around her eye was broken, the aunt said. Though she has other cuts and bruises, the majority of the injuries were to the teen-ager's face.

"She's a mess, but she's stable -- that's main thing," the aunt said. "She's going to have a long, hard road. . . . "

Though Bussey often traveled around Maryland with the Special Olympics or with a Girl Scout troop, the California vacation was her first big trip without her family, her aunt said.

"She was looking forward to it so much," the aunt said.

The aunt said Bussey has been with the Girl Scouts since she was a little girl, has won awards for leadership and beauty contests, and is involved in a variety of community activities. "She's a very special child," the aunt said. "It's just so terrible. . . . "I can't even imagine how some of those other parents feel. . . . I'm just so sorry for the mothers who lost."

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