A 76-year-old school bus driver has been placed on paid administrative leave after driving his bus onto a set of railroad tracks in Davis County and narrowly escaping an oncoming train.

The bus stopped on the tracks with the crossing arms down on both sides. If not for two nearby construction workers, the school district fears the outcome could have been tragic.

"If not for the construction workers nearby we may have been talking fatalities," said Davis District spokesman Chris Williams.

The incident happened about 7:45 a.m. Thursday along 200 North in Kaysville, where there is a lot of road construction. An overpass is being built over the railroad tracks.

The bus driver was taking students to Fairfield Junior High when somehow the bus got caught between the two crossing arms, "which should never occur," Williams said.

"All the training we give to drivers, you stop at a set of tracks whether the arms are down or not, open the door, look both ways, listen and proceed when you feel it's safe," he said.

Williams was unsure Friday how many students were on the bus at the time.

Two nearby construction workers who saw what was happening ran over to the tracks and tried lifting the crossing arm. When they couldn't do that, they yelled at the driver to just go, Williams said.

"Who knows what the driver may have been thinking? First off, he shouldn't have been on the tracks. Did he panic? Who knows?," Williams said.

Finally, the driver hit the gas and drove through the crossing arm, breaking it off and cracking the windshield of the bus.

Williams was unsure Friday how close the train came to hitting the bus. But he noted that Kaysville police told the district that once the crossing arms go down, there is usually only 20 seconds before a train goes by.

At least four students were shaken enough by the incident that they sought assistance from school counselors Thursday, Williams said. Counselors were still available for students Friday.

The driver has been driving busses for the district for 10 years.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com