Authorities say dense fog played a role in an early morning accident involving a Nebraska school bus. Two children were critically hurt, and eleven others injured, when the bus collided with a semi.
Officials with the Nebraska State Patrol say a school bus transporting students to Battle Creek collided with a semi about 7:15 Monday morning on Highway 275 about four miles northeast of Battle Creek. Thirteen children were on the bus at the time. Eight of them were treated at Norfolk's Faith Regional Health Services with what hospital officials say were varying degrees of injuries. Ray Sencebaugh, Faith Regional Health Service, said, "The kids that came in by van were fine...just a couple of scrapes and bruises. But the others from EMS were a little bit more banged up."
Two children were seriously injured and transferred to Omaha hospitals with what hospital officials called head trauma injuries. Those two have yet to be identified. School officials say they students on the bus ranged in age from eighth grade on down to kindergarten, and rescue officials say the accident scene was a tense one for the children involved. Mike Fleer, Battle Creek Rescue, said, "One of the children was complaining of a little bit of pain, but he was more worried about his sister. We had to reassure him that we were taking him to the hospital but somebody else was taking care of his sister."
School officials say they acted quickly, coordinating the injured students with family members at the hospital and providing support where they could. Jay Bellar, Battle Creek Superintendent, said, "We have a list of all the kids that are on there. We started calling parents right away. That was our plan, to make sure we all met at the emergency room to see if they were OK, and then make a plan from there."
School officials were also quick to praise the Norfolk and Battle Creek rescue units for their prompt response. They say they're convinced that this situation could have been much worse, and they're thankful that a scary situation has, for the most part, turned out alright. "It's something that we just never want to happen, but accidents do," Bellar said,. "We're just praying for our kids to make sure they're safe. They're our number one commodity in our school and we want them to be safe."
State Patrol officials say the driver of the bus was 73-year old Larry Prauner of Battle Creek, Nebraska. The semi was driven by 63-year-old Stanley Jauer of Hinton, Iowa. Neither driver was hurt.