NORTH WEBSTER — A crash involving four Wawasee Community School buses Wednesday resulted in more than 50 injured students, according to Kosciusko County police.
A bus driver was airlifted to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne after the collision on Ind. 13. According to a press release from police, the driver had sustained serious injuries in the wreck
The crash occurred around 3:30 p.m. on Ind. 13 near Clark’s Marine, south of the Wawasee Middle School. Wawasee Superintendent Dr. Tom Edington said the four buses were traveling south, carrying students home from Wawasee High School and Middle School.
Chad Hill, public information officer with the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department, said a chain-reaction crash occurred. Hill also said the bus in the lead was stopped at the time of the mishap.
After the crash, Edington said, around five students were taken by ambulance to local hospitals. He said approximately 20 to 25 moderately injured students were transported by bus, and escorted by sheriff’s officers, to Kosciusko Community Hospital.
Minimally and uninjured students were taken to the middle school to be picked up by their parents; Edington put that number at around 75. Medical personnel were at the school to evaluate students who might be hurt.
Versions differ on the number of young people helped at KCH. At 5:50 p.m. Wednesday, hospital staff reported that 43 students — none with serious or critical injuries — were being treated.
According to the nursing supervisor at IU Health Goshen Hospital, another four students were being treated there.
Camille Burnworth, a Wawasee junior, was one of the students on the buses. She walked out of the middle school late Wednesday afternoon holding a bag of ice to the right side of her neck.
Burnworth said she’d been talking with friends in the back of the bus prior to the crash. Burnworth said she turned, “And I saw this bus and it just ran into us. And glass was just flying everywhere.”
In the aftermath of that crash, Edington was at the scene, four school buses stopped on the road. The superintendent indicated he didn’t notice the vehicles when he arrived.
“I noticed the students, and went to help gather students and get them on other buses, gather them together and have them ride to the middle school,” Eddington said. “And (the students) certainly did help one another and support one another.
“A tough situation like this can bring about some gratifying emotions that you really appreciate the type of people who we live around, and the students who have learned to be there for one another.”
Edington praised the work of police and emergency responders at the scene. He also said bus crashes are rare: Drivers are careful. dington also said buses are built to safe standards. They’re big and have high seat backs and padding.
“They’re built substantial for a reason,” he said.
Goshen News staffer Daniel Riordan contributed to this report.