Authorities still looking at apparent crop dusting of Stratford school bus

The Fresno BeeFebruary 28, 2014 

The Kings County Department of Agriculture and California Highway Patrol are continuing their investigation into a Thursday incident where a crop duster may have sprayed a school bus with herbicide.

The incident occurred about 3:40 p.m. Thursday on Laurel Avenue near Avenal Cutoff outside the town of Stratford.

Four students reported dizziness and headaches, said CHP Sgt. Robert Brunell, and three were taken to Adventist Medical Center in Hanford. They were treated and released.

Initial investigation indicates that some windows on the bus were open, Brunell said Friday.

There were 23 students on the Central Union School District bus from Stratford Elementary and Central Elementary schools, he said.

Wind currents also may have been a factor in pushing the herbicide beyond a planned containment zone, said Rusty Lantsberger, who is investigating the incident for Kings County Department of Agriculture.

With a storm coming in, there "were some different wind currents," Lantsberger said.

He said investigators don't yet know what caused the children's sickness. The case, Lantsberger said, is still considered a suspected accidental drift incident.

The products used were "warning or caution materials," he said. None was restricted. The duster was treating a wheat field with herbicides for weed removal.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6166, mbenjamin@fresnobee.com or @beebenjamin on Twitter.

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