Thursday, August 5, 2010

Missouri School Bus Crash

Two buses packed with members of a high school marching band slammed into a freeway wreck that happened right in front of them on Thursday, crushing a pickup truck and killing its driver – the son of a political hopeful – as well as one of the students.

Dozens of other students from the John F. Hodge High School in St. James were taken to hospitals for treatment after the crash, which happened on a highway near Gray Summit, about 40 miles west of St. Louis. Most of the injuries were minor, and only two students remained hospitalized Thursday evening.

The students were traveling to a Six Flags amusement park about 10 miles from the crash site.

According to the State Highway Patrol, a pickup truck driven by 19-year-old Daniel Schatz, a former reserve quarterback for the University of Missouri football team and the son of Republican state House candidate Dave Schatz, slammed into the back of a semi cab that had slowed approaching a construction zone.

The forward-most of the two buses carrying the St. James students slammed into the back of Schatz's truck, then landed on top of it after it was rammed from behind by the other bus, said Highway Patrol Cpl. Jeff Wilson.

Jessica Brinker, a 15-year-old student who was sitting in the back of the first bus, was killed, the Patrol said.

Kolby Griffith, 17, said he was chatting with friends on the second bus when it crashed, and that everything happened so quickly it was a blur.

"It was all very, very quick," Griffith said. "I was trying to get away, trying to get everyone away from the bus because I could smell gas."

Griffith, who was evaluated and released at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis, was among about three dozen students who were called into a room at the hospital and told about Brinker's death.