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OSP: Driver who struck, totaled S. Oregon school bus on Hwy. 97 near La Pine cited for careless driving

(Update: Oregon State Police release details of crash; driver cited)

La PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A driver who struck and totaled a Southern Oregon basketball team school bus on Highway 97 near La Pine on Saturday evening was cited for failure to drive within a lane and careless driving, Oregon State Police reported Monday.

Nine people aboard a Phoenix High School team bus heading back to Southern Oregon from a girls basketball game in Crook County escaped serious injury in the crash, but the bus was totaled, officials said.

OSP released limited additional information on Monday, saying they were withholding some details "due to the involved juveniles and potential for further litigation."

Around 5:40 p.m., a pickup truck with two occupants was heading north on the highway near milepost 176 when the driver crossed the center line for unknown reasons and collided with a southbound school bus nearly head-on, OSP said.

After colliding with the bus, which had nine occupants at the time, the pickup collided with an SUV with four occupants that was traveling behind the bus, troopers said.

The pickup driver and all four SUV occupants were taken to St. Charles Bend with minor injuries, OSP said, which the bus occupants reportedly were not injured.

“This was a traumatic event. It’s never a good feeling when you get that call as a superintendent to say your team and kids have been involved in a bus crash," Phoenix-Talent School District Superintendent Brent Barry said Monday.

The six players, two coaches and driver on the bus, heading home after the team’s season-ending loss at Crook County, were brought back to Phoenix High from the crash scene by families who also made the trip, Phoenix-Talent School District officials said in a news release.

The bus driver employed by First Student was able to maintain control of the bus and safely steer it onto the road shoulder, officials said.

“The bus driver did a great job keeping it from being much worse,” Phoenix High Athletics director Dave Ehrhardt said. “Our coaches stabilized the scene and helped calm down the kids, and the families of the other kids circled back from an hour away to help get everyone home.”

The team arrived back in Phoenix by about 10 p.m. Saturday, and nobody who was on the bus at the time of the crash checked into a hospital.

“Some of our folks were reporting soreness, but nothing seems too serious," Ehrhardt said. “Our coaches worked with them at the scene. We met again this (Monday) morning as a group at school, just to check in with everybody. Our school district is providing services for anybody -- if it’s today, tomorrow, or down the road, who feels they need any.” 

“We want to thank the families who helped get our kids and staff back safely, our First Student partners, the Oregon State Police, and our Athletic Director Dave Ehrhardt for all his help," Barry said.

Article Topic Follows: Accidents and Crashes

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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.


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