Driver seriously hurt, multiple students hospitalized after Lakota school bus crash

Parents and students say they’re emotionally shaken from the incident.
Ten medics were called to the bus crash scene, according to Butler County Dispatch.
Ten medics were called to the bus crash scene, according to Butler County Dispatch.(WXIX)
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 4:01 PM EST
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - Dozens of students were onboard a Lakota School bus that crashed around 3:15 p.m. Monday, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

Bus no. 122 was leaving VanGordan Elementary when it was involved in a crash with a car near Lesourdsville-West Chester Road and Yamasee Drive, VanGordon Elementary School said in a message to parents.

The sheriff’s office Monday night clarified there were 48 students and one driver on board the bus after dispatchers said earlier in the evening there were 53 students on board.

Ten medics were called to the bus crash scene, according to Butler County Dispatch.

None of the students were seriously injured, but the school says two students were treated for minor injuries. One of those students was transported to Cincinnati Children’s Liberty Township campus.

The driver of the car, a Nissan Altima, was trapped in the car for a half-hour before firefighters could remove him, according to the sheriff’s office. He was the lone occupant.

He suffered two broken legs and internal injuries the sheriff’s office describes as life-threatening. He had to be flown to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He remains at the hospital in critical condition as of 7 a.m. Tuesday, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office said.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation, but speeding or impairment do not appear to be factors, according to the sheriff’s office.

The bus driver was not at fault and is ok, the sheriff’s office said.

Students were transported back to VanGorden Elementary where parents picked them up.

Heather Higbee is among the dozens of parents shaken after the crash.

“I was checking my phone repeatedly for an email with information,” she said. “I think most of us found out about this purely through Facebook posts... even Butler County scanner delayed sharing it, and I think that’s because they knew parents were going to panic.”

Heather’s sixth-grade daughter, Lauren Higbee, and her friend, Aubree Hyden, both say their immediate reaction was to check in with everyone they knew.

“One of my friends kept passing out, so she had to go in an ambulance,” Aubree said. “I called my friends and I asked them, ‘Are you planning to ride a bus again?’ And they said, ‘No, I think I’m going to probably be, like, a car rider.’”

Heather says the actions Lakota Schools took to care for impacted students and alert parents brought some comfort. Still, concerns remain about the safety of everyone involved, including the driver of the car.

“I know that the four-door sedan ended up hitting the bus head-on,” Heather said. “I’m just praying for the safety of everyone and that everyone makes it through this ok... and if by chance it happens that someone doesn’t make it through, that they find peace.”

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