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SUV hits school bus carrying 14 Baker Co. FFA youth on Hwy. 126 in Redmond; 3 minor injuries, driver charged with DUII

Baker school bus Redmond crash Mellissa Laner 3-22
Mellissa Laner/Facebook
An SUV crashed into a Baker School District mini-bus on Hwy. 126 in Redmond Friday night, sending it into a roadside ditch and causing minor injuries to three students, officials said.
Crash Hwy. 126 and Helmholtz Katie Matthai 3-22-1
Katie Matthai
SUV, school bus collided on Hwy. 126 in Redmond Friday night, sending 4 of 14 youth on it to hospital
Redmond 126 Helmholtz crash TripCheck 3-22-1
ODOT TripCheck
Crash closed Hwy. 126 for a time Friday night.

(Update: More details on crash, charges, visiting Baker County FFA students)

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A Culver woman was arrested on DUII, reckless driving and assault charges Friday night after Oregon State police say she ran a stop sign on Highway 126 in Redmond and her SUV crashed into the side of a small school bus carrying 14 Baker County Future Farmers of America students in town for a state convention. Three were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Troopers and other first responders were dispatched around 9:25 p.m. to the reported two-vehicle crash on Highway 126 (Highland Avenue) near the intersection SW with Helmholtz Way involving a 2019 Subaru Ascent and a westbound school bus that was sent crashing off the eastbound shoulder of the highway, down into a ditch.

The 34-year-old SUV driver, reportedly uninjured, was booked into the Deschutes County Jail in Bend on charges of DUII, reckless driving, 15 counts of reckless endangering and three counts of fourth-degree assault, OSP said.

The woman was released from jail around 2 a.m. Saturday to a responsible third party, pending a future court date, according to a jail officer. NewsChannel 21 policy is to not name arrested individuals until and unless formal charges are filed.

The students were competing in the Oregon FFA’s annual convention, which is underway Thursday through Sunday at the Deschutes Fair & Expo Center in Redmond, Baker School District 5J Public Information and Communications Coordinator Lindsey Bennington McDowell said.

The Baker students had been recognized with a “Superior Chapter” award earlier Friday, before the crash, she noted.

Baker School Superintendent Erin Lair said: "We are so very grateful for fantastic first responders, caring and skilled staff, and parents helping our kids. Buses really do a spectacular job keeping students safe when collisions happen. We will get our students home and celebrate their incredible showing in the competition.

"There’s just absolutely no excuse for driving drunk," Lair added.

The crash, treatment of the injured and investigation closed the highway for about an hour.

One student still was being treated Saturday at St. Charles Bend, according to McDowell, who said the mini-bus was being driven by one of the district's FFA advisors, Bibiana Gifft.

The school district reached out to the parents of the FFA students involved to provide them information and updates, and a replacement bus was on its way to Redmond on Saturday to help bring the group home.

"We have some amazing staff and parents helping impacted students," McDowell said, adding, "I'm told we're very fortunate there were no fatalities."

Article Topic Follows: Accidents and Crashes

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Barney Lerten

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