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Bend-La Pine school bus hits patch of black ice, crashes on Crescent Cutoff Road; La Pine HS student injured

Crescent Cutoff school bus crash 1115-1
Bend-La Pine Schools
A Bend-La Pine school bus taking La Pine HS students to Albany slid off Hwy. 61, crashed west of Crescent Wednesday morning
Crescent Cutoff school bus crash 1115-2
Bend-La Pine Schools
Three La Pine HS students were taken to St. Charles Bend with injuries after crash Wednesday morning on Crescent Cutoff Road

(Update: OSP crash info, says one student had non-life threatening injuries; ODOT statement on road)

CRESCENT, Ore. (KTVZ) – A La Pine High School student sustained non-life threatening injuries and six others also went to the hospital Wednesday morning after their school bus hit a patch black ice on Crescent Cutoff Road and the driver lost control and slid off the road, striking a tree and overturning, authorities said.

The crash occurred around 6:20 a.m. as the Bend-La Pine school bus, carrying nine students and a teacher, was on its way to Albany for a welding competition at Linn-Benton Community College, school district Director of Communications Scott Maben said.

Three students initially were reported to have non-life-threatening injuries and were taken to St. Charles Bend, Maben said Wednesday morning, noting that others may have had minor injuries. The bus driver and teacher were not hurt.

Oregon State Police said later Wednesday the school bus driver was traveling at about 55 mph and hit a patch of black ice. The female driver lost control and "attempted to make driving corrections," but she was unsuccessful, OSP Captain Kyle Kennedy said, resulting in the crash into a roadside ditch.

Seven students were "transported for precautionary reasons," he said. "with one of them found to have a more significant, non-life threatening injury."

The school bus driver is cooperating fully with the investigation, Kennedy added.

Maben said the school district has support staff at La Pine High School “to assist any students or staff who may need help today.”

ODOT's TripCheck has a notice regarding the Crescent Cutoff Road, indicating it will have "limited daytime winter maintenance and no overnight winter maintenance."

"Steep narrow curvy county road over a mountain pass," the notice states, listing a Klamath County Public Works contact. "Expect snow or packed ice from November to April. Chains or traction control devices strongly encouraged."

ODOT Region 4 Public Information Officer Kacey Davey said, "We hope those injured continue to recover." And she provided this background on this road in context with the ODOT budget-caused service reductions:

"The Crescent Cutoff Road is a Klamath County road that ODOT has historically maintained in the winter through an agreement with the county. We still have that agreement, but because of budget reductions it’s working a bit differently this year.

"In the past, ODOT crew members from La Pine would plow, sand and de-ice this road as time allowed throughout the winter months. Klamath County was billed for that winter maintenance. With less staff available, we do not have the resources to dedicate to this county road as we have in the past.

"ODOT met with Klamath County in September to discuss options moving forward, and they will be funding an ODOT position that will focus on the Crescent Cutoff so that we can continue winter maintenance on this road. Our agreement typically starts in mid-November, this year it’s planned to begin in December after the position is hired.

"The road will be maintained during daylight hours and will likely see less or no maintenance at night. The county has put up signs warning traffic of the limited nighttime maintenance, and there is also a notice on

"Throughout the state, our winter maintenance is already looking different than it has in years past. With less funding available for maintenance, and less staff, materials and resources available as a result, we are forced to reduce our maintenance levels," Davey concluded.

It’s the second reported crash involving a Bend-La Pine school bus this fall. In September, a Sunriver man was cited for careless driving after Oregon State Police said he failed to stop for a stopped bus on Highway 31 south of La Pine, then tried to pass it but rear-ended the bus, also striking an oncoming car. He was cited for careless driving.

Article Topic Follows: Accidents and Crashes

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Barney Lerten

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