Police: child, driver die in Ind. school bus crash

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INDIANAPOLIS — A school bus making its morning rounds ran into a railroad bridge Monday, killing one child and the driver and critically injuring two other students, authorities said.

The bus carrying 50 students to Indianapolis Lighthouse Charter School struck a pillar of the bridge in the middle of a street on the city’s east side about 7:45 a.m. Monday, city fire Capt. Rita Burris said. The impact tore apart the front end of the bus, smashing in the first several feet of the driver’s side.

Burris said the male driver and a female student believed to be 5 or 6 years old were killed. Two male students were critically injured and were taken to Indianapolis hospitals along with eight others whom Burris characterized as “walking wounded.” WISH-TV reported that one of the injured was a child whom emergency crews had to rescue from under the front wheel of the bus.

Burris said fire department crews spent about 45 minutes extricating four people who were trapped inside the wreck.

The students on the bus ranged from ages 5 to 16, Burris said.

The uninjured students were taken to the school about two miles away.

Authorities said it wasn’t immediately clear what caused the crash. The pavement was wet from morning rains, but police Sgt. Anthony Schneider did not know whether it had been raining at the time of the crash.

Schneider said an autopsy was planned to determine whether the driver had a medical problem before the crash.

The driver of another school bus that was behind the one that hit the bridge and an approaching car told investigators that the bus wasn’t speeding in the 35 mph zone.

“Boom it just hit,” Schneider said. “They didn’t see anything like the bus swerving.”

Tami Presley told WISH-TV she was on her way to work when she came upon the crash scene. She said she heard screaming and crying and saw several children with bloody noses.

“I couldn’t figure out what it was that was under the bridge,” Presley said. “As I was pulling under I just see kids just start jumping off. They were all screaming and crying.”

She said she tried to console the children and that a paramedic on board the bus was trying to help the injured.

Kevin Mays, who walked to the crash scene from the nearby CSX Transportation rail yard where he works, said the bus was so crumpled that he expected to see terrible injuries.

“There was a lot of chaos and crying from the kids,” Mays said.

Lighthouse student Dimitri Smith, 15, missed the bus and was riding to school with his grandfather when he saw the accident scene.

Smith told The Indianapolis Star the bus driver was “a really cool guy.”

“He wanted all of us to be safe, and he was good bus driver,” he said.

The bus is owned by Miller Transportation. A woman answering the phone at the company’s Indianapolis office said it would have no comment.

Beth Bray, who works for the Indianapolis mayor’s office and was helping to answer the telephone at the school Monday morning, said the school would have no immediate comment on the crash.

“We’re trying to help parents and get everybody coordinated,” she said.

The school planned to dismiss students early Monday.

This story was written and provided by The Associated Press Wire.  (Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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