Bus accident witness: 'It was just by the luck of the Lord it wasn't all of us'

PORTLAND, Ore. - John Worden said it could just as easily have been him who was hit and killed by a school bus in Southeast Portland on Tuesday afternoon.

Worden said he was standing just behind Renee and Shawn Bates when they were struck by the bus at the intersection of SE 148th and Division, killing Renee.

"It was just by the luck of the Lord it wasn't all of us, because the bus driver just didn't even look," Worden said late Tuesday night. "Unfortunately, I'm sure that's going to stay with her for a long time."

Worden said he believed the couple had the right of way at the intersection. The driver, who was driving a West Linn school bus, has not been cited in the incident. Portland police are still investigating.

Worden described a confusing scene in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

"The ladies behind us were yelling 'back up, back up,' and I was trying to tell them 'turn your wheels to your right,' because it would've rolled right off her torso. Instead she backed right back over the same injury and (the bus) stayed on her ankle. And when the bus finally backed off her ankle, it was just horrible."

Worden said he and Shawn tried to lift the small bus off Renee.

"We had all those endorphins blasting through, I think from seeing such a traumatic event, and of course we couldn't do it," he said.

Worden said Renee initially seemed like she'd be OK, but went into shock before being transported to the hospital, where she died.

It's not the first time Renee and Shawn Bates were in the news recently. Their apartment was also burned in a fire within the last year.

Two children were on board the bus. Neither they nor Shawn was injured.

The bus was carrying children on their way home from the Serendipity Center's summer-school program.

The bus driver, who has been on the job since August 1989, had a clean driving record and is familiar with the route.

She's on administrative leave during the investigation.