UPDATE: All Wawasee students released from hospital after crash - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: All Wawasee students released from hospital after crash

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At least 50 people were taken to area hospitals after a crash involving four Wawasee school buses full of middle and high school student.

Forty-six of those patients were taken to Kosciusko Community Hospital. On Thursday morning we were told all of them were released. IU Health Goshen said they treated and released four patients.

One bus driver, 61-year-old John Wagoner, was air lifted to Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne.  On Thursday morning hospital officials told FOX28 Wagoner was out of surgery and in fair and stable condition.  One of the other drivers, 47-year-old Julie Close is in fair condition with a leg injury.

The other two drivers, 64-year-old Cynthia Routh and 63-year-old David Granger, were not reported seriously injured in the crash.  All bus drivers involved in the incident will undergo drug and alcohol testing.  Kosciusko County deputies say Wagoner was driving the rear bus that crashed into the Close's bus leading to the chain reaction.

The crash happened around 3:30 p.m. on State Road 13 not far from Wawasee Middle School.  It happened when a bus was stopped to let a 9th grader off the bus.  "I was getting off the bus and I was I'd say a foot away," said Marcus Gagye, that's how close he was to his bus when the collision happened.  "As I was backing up bus 28 just crashed into bus 44." 

Marcus said he's always the first one to get off the bus after school.  Wednesday his dad was waiting for him when he heard the crash.  "It almost sounded like rolling thunder.  It was almost like a boom boom!" said Brian Gagye. 

He quickly rushed to the scene.  "I yelled at my wife call 911 then I ran over and started pulling people off the bus, kids jumping out the window at me," said Gagye.

He said law enforcement and paramedics showed up shortly after that.  Members of Wawasee Community Schools weren't far behind.  "We heard on the bus radio about 3:30 an accident that occurred south of our middle school," said Superintendent Tom Edington.  He said they do emergency training exercises at the schools but still wasn't quite prepared for what he saw at the crash.  "I was in shock, students were in shock."

Between 100 and 120 students were on the buses when the crash happened.  Edington said five students were taken away by ambulance.  About 30 were taken to Koscuisko Community Hospital by a school bus with a police escort.  And about another 30 were taken to Wawasee Middle School where nurses and doctors checked them out.  All the students were on their way home from school.  "All four buses contained students from the Wawasee Middle School and also Wawasee High School," said Sgt. Chad Hill with the Kosciusko County Sheriff's department.

Hill said they are continuing to investigate but based on preliminary evidence he can say this, "One of the buses rear ended one of the middle buses and caused the collision, chair reaction collision that continued to the front bus."

For the students regardless of how or why it happened it was a frightening experience.  "It was really scary I was like two feed from getting hit," said Marcus Gagye.

The Superintendent said there will be counselors on hand tomorrow because this was obviously a traumatic experience for the children.  Also all bus routes will run as normal tomorrow because they have enough replacements to keep the system going.

State Road 13 was closed for around 4 hours, and re-opened to traffic at around 7:30 PM.

 

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