Communications About California Bus Tragedy

A terrible bus accident left ten people dead, including five high school students on a Preview Plus tour of Humboldt State College. This was a special trip for first-generation and low-income students to see the college where they were accepted and might attend the following year. More than 30 people were injured.

A FedEx truck jumped the median and crashed into the bus, creating a horrible scene of students and their chaperones trying to escape. A FedEx spokesperson has made this statement: "Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in the tragic accident on I-5 in California. We are cooperating fully with authorities as they investigate." Also, FedEx posted this statement on the news pages of its website.

Humboldt posted this message on its website:

Humboldt State University

Here are two excerpts from a news conference.

See also the LA School District's notice to employees.

Although the California Highway Patrol says the investigation could take months, they do know that some bus passengers weren't using their seatbelts. As a new model bus, it had shoulder belts, but victims were thrown from the vehicle, indicating that their use wasn't enforced.

Discussion Starters:

  • Assess Homboldt's website post. In what ways is it what you would expect, and how, if it all, is it different?
  • Assess FedEx's statement. Given the recency, is the statement appropriate? Should the company say anything else?
  • Assess the comments in both videos for emotional appeal and handling questions. What works well,  and what could be improved?