2 die, 42 hurt in school bus crash near St. Louis

Two vehicles carrying 8th-grade students to an amusement park collide with a tractor-trailer

Published August 5, 2010 7:36PM (EDT)

Missouri state troopers say the two people killed in a chain-reaction freeway accident involving a tractor trailer cab, two school buses and a pickup truck were a girl on one of the buses and the driver of the pickup.

Authorities say the buses were taking the high school band members from St. James to a Six Flags amusement park when the collision on Interstate 44 west of St. Louis occurred.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says the pickup truck slammed into the back of the tractor, which had slowed for traffic near a construction zone near Gray Summit west of St. Louis.

The bus carrying the girl then struck the pickup from behind and was rear-ended by the other bus.

Dozens of children were taken to area hospitals, mostly with injuries not considered life-threatening.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

GRAY SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) -- Two buses carrying high school band students to an amusement park were involved in a freeway wreck with a semi tractor and another passenger vehicle Thursday that left two people dead and dozens injured, officials said.

Missouri Department of Transportation spokesman Jorma Duran confirmed the two deaths but could not immediately say whether the victims of the Interstate 44 crash about 10 a.m. near Gray Summit, 32 miles west of St. Louis, were riders on the school buses.

Ashley Wiehle, a spokeswoman for SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis, said 36 kids were en route to the hospital. She said they appeared to be in good condition and were going to be examined as a precaution.

Six more children were taken to St. John's Mercy Medical Center but their injuries and their conditions were not known, hospital spokeswoman Bethany Pope said.

A spokeswoman at St. Clare Health Center in Fenton, Mo., said four other patients were taken there with minor injuries.

The buses were carrying St. James high school band students to the Six Flags amusement park roughly 10 miles from the crash scene.

Aerial footage of the wreckage showed the front end of one of the yellow school buses perched atop the back of the gray semi rig's cab. The second bus had smashed into a rear corner of the first bus. Firefighters were hosing down the mangled debris, and metal ladders provided access to the buses' windows.

Calls to the Franklin County Sheriff's Department were directed to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which did not immediately return calls and pages.

Duran said vehicles involved in the crash included what appeared to be a sports utility vehicle, which was crushed and hardly distinguishable while wedged below the bus that came to rest atop the semi tractor's cab.

Hours later, eastbound lanes of the freeway remained closed, forcing traffic in that direction to be detoured several miles around the wreckage.


Associated Press writers Jim Suhr in St. Louis, Chris Blank in Jefferson City, and Heather Hollingsworth and Bill Draper in Kansas City contributed to this report.

By Associated Press

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