SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)- A bus driver was killed this morning and 14 students were sent to hospital after a school bus crossed the centre line of a highway and slammed into a semi truck in northern Alberta.
RCMP say the bus was travelling south on Highway 35, north of Grimshaw, Alta., when it appeared to cross into an opposing lane, where it collided with the truck just before 8:30 a.m..
The 60-year-old bus driver died on the way to hospital. All 14 elementary and high school students on the bus were injured. One was flown to hospital in Edmonton with non-life-threatening injuries, while seven were taken to hospital with broken limbs and other serious wounds.
The remainder are being treated for minor injuries. The 36-year-old driver of the truck was also seriously injured and taken to hospital.
Cpl. Carol McKinley told CBC News the students were on their way to schools in the Peace River area.
Crash investigators are now trying to determine the cause of the collision.
Paul Bennett, superintendent Peace River School Division, went to the scene shortly after the crash happened.
“Some kids had already left by ambulance,” he said.
Others were with their parents in cars and trucks that showed up at the scene.
“Folks were quite distraught,” Bennett said. “Some appeared to be in shock.”
Students still at the scene were being interviewed by RCMP. “Most of the kids were still in shock,” Bennett said. “Or didn’t know really what had happened.”
Nine of the students attended public schools in his division. The others attended Catholic schools from the Holy Family Separate School Division.
Bennett said his school board sent home letters to parents Monday afternoon telling them what happened. The school board has already arranged for counsellors to be available in all schools.
“Given that this has just happened today, we’re doing as much as we can as quickly as we can.”
The man at the wheel of the bus was a spare driver who took shifts with the school division, Bennett said. He lived in Grimshaw.
The injured students ranged in age from 8 to 18.
“A sudden death of this sort has a significant impact on a community,” he said. “We see ourselves as one big extended family.”
The Peace River School Division has 3,000 students spread over 20 schools.