Driver injured in collision between truck and a bus carrying special needs children
LOGANSPORT, Ind. — A school bus collided with two dump trucks in a horrific crash Friday in rural northern Indiana, killing the four young special-needs students on board and injuring the bus driver, authorities said.
The children, ages 5 through 10, all lived in nearby Monticello and attended schools in Logansport that catered to their special needs, Indiana State Police said.
"The victims are everywhere," Cass County Coroner Gene Powlen said.
The bus driver, identified by police and school officials as Debbie Duvall, 46, of Idaville, was flown to a Fort Wayne hospital, where she was in serious condition Friday night. The two truck drivers were not injured.
"It saddens the Twin Lakes School community to report the death of four of our students involved in a school bus accident today," said a statement issued by Superintendent Thomas Fletcher of the Twin Lakes School Corp. in Monticello.
Killed were 5-year-old Lauren Melin, 9-year-old Kale Seabolt, and Trevor Ingram and Tyler Geiger, both 10, state police Sgt. Tony Slocum said.
The crash occurred around 2:45 p.m. on U.S. 24 west of Logansport, about 70 miles north of Indianapolis.
A motor scooter driver stopped or slowed in front of a dump truck in order to turn into a driveway, state police Sgt. Tony Slocum said. The dump truck braked and veered into the oncoming lanes, where it clipped the left rear portion of the bus, Slocum said.
The 15-passenger bus flipped onto its side and slid into the path of a second dump truck, which struck its roof. The bus then slid into a ditch and came to rest, its front end and roof crushed.
All four students and Duvall were wearing seat belts or were sitting in a child safety seat, Slocum said.
"The impact was too severe for the restraints to save the children," he said.
Slocum said investigators were still gathering information from the truck drivers, who were not injured. He said there was no indication that any of the drivers were speeding but that they would undergo routine tests for drugs and alcohol.
Pam Simons, who lives next door to Duvall, described her as a longtime bus driver and said news of the crash was overwhelming.
"It's a huge tragedy for this community," she said. "All I can say is she's a wonderful person, a tremendous neighbor, and we're all praying for her."
The collision comes just days after police said a tractor-trailer driver on his cell phone hit a school bus in Florida, killing a 13-year-old girl.