INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: School Bus Crashes Into Truck In Douglas County, Washington State – One Person Death, 47 Others Injured!

The school bus was severely damaged in the crash. (Washington State Patrol photo)

– One person was killed and 47 patients were taken to the hospital Thursday after the driver of a large box truck fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a school bus and passenger car on rural Highway 97 in Douglas County, the Washington State Patrol said.

Trooper Darren Wright of the Washington State Patrol says 22-year-old Carmela Cuellar Morales, who was driving the car, was killed in the 8:10 a.m. crash about five miles north of Orondo.

At least seven other people were “heavily injured,” said Chief Jim Oatey of Douglas County Fire District 4, including the driver and passenger in the box truck and a 12-year-old girl who was riding in the car.

Dozens of students of all ages were aboard the school bus, operated by the Orondo School District.

“When the truck crashed the bus, I (fell) and the kids fell out of the seats,” said 6-year-old Jasmine Gaona, who was sporting a bandaged knee after being released from the hospital.

Officials initially said five students and the school bus driver were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. Later, state troopers said 43 students, the bus driver, the two occupants of the box truck and the 12-year-old girl in the car were taken to the hospital to be checked out or treated for injuries.

“We did see a few fractures,” said Tracey Kasnic, Chief Nursing Officer at Confluence Health. “But mostly bumps, bruises and lacerations.”

None of the students needed to be admitted, Wright said.

Investigators say it appears the driver of the large box truck collided head-on with the passenger car, then careened head-on into the school bus. The driver of the car and a passenger in the box truck had to be removed from the tangled wreckage with special extrication equipment.

“We are investigating the truck (driver) for fatigue issues,” Wright said. “He crossed the center line and struck the vehicles.”

State Patrol reports also show the driver of the box truck, identified as 54-year-old Kenneth A. Hahn, was involved in another crash near the same spot on US-97 just over a year ago. On Feb. 13, 2014, Hahn was driving a 1998 International Van truck when he crossed the center line about 10 miles north of Orondo and struck a Honda Pilot with three people inside, including a 3-year-old boy, according to the crash report. All three survived but the two adults in the Pilot were hospitalized. The report states Hahn was cited with driving over the centerline.

There is one school in the town of Orondo, a combination elementary-middle school with about 160 students. The bus was on its way there with a full load of students at the time of the crash.

Douglas County Sheriff Harvey Gjesdal said it was the worst accident in his 30-year career in law enforcement. “Anything involving a school bus causes great concern – sad, sad,” he said.

Millie Watkins, superintendent of the Orondo School District, agreed. “Obviously, this has been upsetting for everyone,” she said. – KOMO News.

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