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School Bus Collision in Elgin, Illinois

Aired November 20, 2002 - 11:16   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: There's been a terrible driving accident in Elgin, Illinois. We saw pictures moments ago of the scene here where the truck hit a school bus, and then the school bus then went and hit a house, as you see here from we're getting from our affiliate WFLD. We're joined by Jerry Ascough, the assistant superintendent for the school district there.
Mr. Ascough, what can you tell us about the incident there?

LARRY ASCOUGH, ASST. SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT: Basically, we had a bus transporting middle school students, 18 students were on board, they came through an intersection, they had the light, and a gravel truck coming from the other direction struck the bus about two-thirds of the way back on the driver's side. The bus continued on and actually went down through a couple of yards, and it's currently embedded in a home about a half a block south of where the accident occurred.

HARRIS: Well, you know, a gravel truck, that's awfully heavy.


HARRIS: Was it loaded at the time? Because if that's the case, it could result from severe injuries?

ASCOUGH: I don't have a report on whether it was loaded or not. The truck is still in the middle of the street. And I think -- I know that the driver of the bus, as well as two of our students, were transported by ambulance to a local hospital. I've also had reports that the truck driver's been transported. We took the other kids on to the hospital for observation. And injuries don't look serious. And it would be a miracle if they're not. But so far, reports are that, you know, that things are checking out OK.

But people are still on the scene, and the police are still there checking it out and getting to the bottom of it, so we're hear getting reports.

HARRIS: OK, once again, can you tell me again how many kids were taken immediately to the hospital there by ambulance or whatever, and do you have any idea of their condition?

ASCOUGH: We were told two students were transported by ambulance, as well as the driver. And they got off the bus on their own power. So we assume that they're not life threatening.

HARRIS: That's good to hear. And I'm assuming that the parents have been notified, or you're in that process right now?

ASCOUGH: Yes, we're in the process. Obviously it's always difficult to find some parents during the daytime. But every effort is being made to do that.

HARRIS: How about the people who live in the house there, do you know anything at all about them?

ASCOUGH: I'm not sure anybody was home. The concern right now is whether or not to extract the bus, they're afraid the house will collapse.

HARRIS: And that will be an even -- well, that will add to the tragedy, of course, here, obviously.

ASCOUGH: Yes, of course.

HARRIS: Boy, this has got to be a tough scene here this morning. Have you talked to any of the kids yourself?

ASCOUGH: No, not personally. We do have staff over at the hospital as well as the school to which they were headed. So, you know, to talk to any parents or others who are concerned. So it's standard procedure, anytime we have any kind of a bus accident, we always take all the kids to the hospital, just to have them checked out.

HARRIS: Now, if you can kind of go back and explain one more thing to me about the intersection itself. Was it a busy intersection? Because this looks like it's a residential area that we're looking at right now.

ASCOUGH: It is, but the road that comes through there is a state highway, comes through the middle of town, and so they have a lot of traffic. And there are a number of areas around there where they do mine gravel, extract gravel, so there are a lot of trucks that drive through there carrying this material.

Our bus driver indicated that she was -- that she had the light, and when she came through, and evidently, the truck did not stop. That's the initial report.

HARRIS: Did she give you any idea about how fast the truck was going?

ASCOUGH: She really didn't, because she was transported to the hospital also. So, she was, you know, at that point the concern was for her well-being, and I'm sure the police are getting her statement now.

HARRIS: Absolutely. I understand that. Now, the kids, were they -- and the driver, were they all on their way to school?

ASCOUGH: Yes, this is a -- they were headed for their last pickup before they went on to school. Our middle school started classes at 9:00, so this would have been the last stop before they headed off.

HARRIS: Boy. Well, Mr. Ascough, we sure do wish all the students there in that situation the best, as well as those at the school who are probably heart struck or will be when they hear what happened to their friends here on this bus.

Thank you very much for the information. And good luck.

ASCOUGH: Thank you.

HARRIS: Appreciate it.


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