Interstate 55 school bus crash injures Grantfork Upper Elementary students

7:41 AM, May 15, 2012   |    comments
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Montgomery County, IL (KSDK) - Two students remained hospitalized after a school bus rear-ended a semi on Interstate 55 in Montgomery County.

Michael Sutton, Superintendent of Highland Schools, said on Tuesday morning that three students have broken legs and two of the three students will have to have surgery. One of the students was released Tuesday morning. 

Illinois State Police said southbound Interstate 55 reopened at mile marker 60, near Litchfield at 11:00 Monday night. 

PHOTOS - Bus collides with semi

State troopers said the 66-year-old driver of the school bus, identified as Henry Jaeger, rear-ended a semi that slowed down for construction traffic around 4:30 p.m. Monday.

The bus was carrying 33 students from Grantfork Upper Elementary in who were returning from a field trip to Springfield, Illinois, according to Sutton.  There was 41 people total on the bus, including the driver and chaperones.

Henry Jaeger had serious injuries and had to be extricated from the bus.

Jaeger is employed by First Student and has been a driver since 2009.  He has no previous accidents.  A First Student spokesperson said Jaeger has been suspended pending the outcome of an internal and police investigation.

Twelve-year-old Jessica Davis of Alhambra, Illinois was airlifted to Cardinal Glennon in St. Louis with with a broken leg. She's expected to have surgery on Tuesday.

A total of 11 people were taken to five hospitals. The driver of the school bus was taken to a Springfield hospital, along with at least one student. Seven students were initially taken to St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield. Hillsboro Area Hospital also received some students with non-life threatening injuries to be checked out.

St. Francis Hospital has confirmed two students they received were airlifted to Children's Hospital in St. Louis.

Two others were treated in the emergency room and are listed in fair condition. Three others were discharged.

The parents of the uninjured students were given the option of having their children examined as a precaution at another hospital.

Teachers, chaperones, and the school principal accompanied students on the field trip. A number of Lincoln landmarks were visited. The trip was for fifth and sixth graders, and the bus that crashed, was carrying sixth graders.

"Right now very fortunate. Although there were some injuries in the accident as you can tell by the looks of the bus we were very fortunate not to have any critical injuries," said Superintendent Sutton.

Illinois State Police said Henry Jaeger was issued a ticket for failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident.

The bus is operated by First Student.

Maureen Richmond, a spokeswoman for First Student, said all buses in their fleet passed an IDOT inspection in March 2012.  Additionally, every driver conducts a pre-trip inspection before transporting any children, every day.


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