May 25, 2017
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HI 57 / LO 50

No sign driver tried to stop before colliding with bus

Van driver killed; four students also injured in Friday morning crash



It appeared the driver of a van made no attempt to slow down before smashing into the back of a Central High School bus that had stopped on a rural road to pick up a student on Friday.

A 21-year-old Antioch, Ill., man was killed in the crash, which also left four Central students with minor injuries. The man’s name has not yet been released.

The crash happened in the 24500 block of Wilmot Road (Highway C) in Salem at about 7 a.m. The bus had just stopped to pick up a student, who had stepped onto the bus and sat down when the collision occurred.

“There were little or no skid marks leading up to the back of the school bus,” Sheriff David Beth said. “It appears he hit it at a decent rate of speed. He was probably going highway speed when he hit it.”

Beth said the speed limit on that stretch of road is 45 mph. He said the bus was shoved about 60 feet by the impact of the crash and the front of the van collapsed, with the bumper of the bus pushed all the way to the back of the van’s front seats.

Central Administrator Scott Pierce said 19 students were on the bus when the crash occurred. He said each student was checked out by emergency medical technicians even if they appeared uninjured.

Pierce said a school counselor and Assistant Principal Peter Haubrich went to the scene to be with students.

Three students were taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries. Another student had minor injuries but declined to be taken to the hospital by ambulance.

“They had cuts from broken glass, whiplash or had bumped into objects on the bus,” Pierce said. One student was injured, Beth said, but refused transport.

The uninjured students were taken to the Trevor Fire Department to be released to school officials and parents. Pierce said three of the students opted to come to school. The rest went home with family or guardians.

Salem Fire Chief Mike Slover said a Salem firefighter was injured while firefighters worked to extricate the victim from the van. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital where he was treated and released.

Highway C is relatively flat and straight where the collision happened. “It’s a country road. The houses are spread out a little bit there,” Beth said.

The driver, Beth said, was clearly distracted by something to have not seen the bus, but investigators do not know what that was at this time. The man’s phone has been collected, but no information was available on whether he was using it, Beth said

“I’m going to assume that there was something that caused this driver not to see the bus,” Beth said.

The man who died worked for a Kenosha tile and flooring company, and was driving a 2014 Ford E250 Econoline van for the company.

Sgt. Eric Klinkhammer said an investigation into the crash is continuing.

Slover said the Salem Fire Department was aided at the scene by departments that sent manpower, equipment and ambulances. Departments that responded included Bristol, Wheatland, Pleasant Prairie, Silver Lake and Paris.

Highway C was closed between Highway 83 and 258th Avenue for most of the morning.


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