BOONE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - Witnesses say kids were sitting on an interstate median Thursday afternoon after a Lafayette School Corporation (LSC) bus carrying special needs kids rolled over on I-65, sending a dozen people to Indianapolis hospitals.
According to dispatchers, an LSC school bus crashed near the Whitestown exit on I-65, near mile marker 128. That's just north of Zionsville, and south of Lebanon. The crash happened at roughly 2 p.m.
Police on the scene said 12 people were on board the bus, with five kids and seven adults sent to Indianapolis hospitals. All injuries were non-life-threatening.
According to Tippecanoe School Corporation (TSC) superintendent Dr. Scott Hanback, five of those students on board were from Mintonye Elementary in Lafayette.
Hanback said the five students are participants of GLASS, or Greater Lafayette Area Special Services, which caters to special needs students. LSC Superintendent Les Huddle says LSC provides buses for GLASS to use for its trips.
The seven adults on board included the bus driver, one teacher, two teaching aides, two parents and one student's sister. The driver has been identified as Audrey Kitchel, 55, of Lafayette. She was not injured in the crash. Indiana State Police also released the names and conditions of the other adults on board:
- Vera Dimoplon, 35, of Lafayette (neck pain)
- Jackie Graff, 37, of Lafayette (back pain)
- Denice Hoffman, 48, of Romney (no injuries)
- Johanna Lopez, 25, of Lafayette (no injuries)
- Jolie Rahn, 46, of Lafayette (abrasion)
- Tracy Vance, 30, of Lafayette (no injuries)
WLFI spoke with a TSC parent who has a special needs child who was on another bus headed north from Indianapolis Thursday. She says this bus was just one of several GLASS special needs buses that had traveled down to Indianapolis for a field trip.
The buses were headed back to the Lafayette from the Indianapolis Zoo when one of them crashed, according to ISP.
Six of the patients were taken to St. Vincent Hospital, including two children. The Associated Press reports four adults and two children, ages 8-10, were released after treatment at St. Vincent Hospital around 6 p.m. Thursday, according to spokesman Johnny Smith.
Two adults and three children were taken to IU Health Methodist Hospital. At Methodist, the director of trauma services said the worst injury appeared to be an arm fracture. Other patients had other broken bones, sprains, dislocations and lacerations.
Indiana State Police (ISP) troopers responding to the wreck say a box truck caused the crash and did not stop after the bus flipped. The box truck was reportedly changing lanes on northbound I-65 when it forced the bus off the road. The bus went into the median and rolled over.
The bus driver told ISP she swerved to avoid the box truck as the bus was traveling in the left-hand lane of northbound I-65, and when she swerved into the muddy median, the bus flipped.
ISP has not released information such as the license plate number of the truck or any other identifying details. There may not have been any solid details reported by witnesses, and ISP says the truck's driver did not stick around to see if those involved in the rollover crash were OK.
Investigators said an inspection by the Indiana State Police Commercial Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division revealed no mechanical problems that would have been factors in the crash.
Boone County dispatchers requested additional medics to the scene to handle the injured adults and kids.
State police said no citations have been issued, but the driver of the box truck has not been found.
ISP tells our WLFI crew that the first responders on scene were not emergency crews, but regular civilians who had stopped their cars to help the victims of the crash. They waited with the kids and adults while emergency crews made their way to the scene.
Troopers from the Indianapolis post of ISP said the southbound lanes of I-65 were completely shut down, but they opened back up at 4 p.m.
One bystander reported to News 18 that he saw the wreck, and saw the schoolchildren waiting on the grassy median in between the north- and southbound lanes of I-65.
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