Two people were killed and nine were injured Wednesday night in Illinois when a semi-truck, traveling in the wrong direction, crashed head-on into a school bus carrying members of a Normal West High School girls’ basketball team.
Video shows that the bus’s roof was sheared partly off in the crash.
According to Illinois State Police spokeswoman Tracy Lillard, the crash took place at 8:32 p.m. local time on westbound Interstate 74 near Downs, Ill., just before the team was scheduled to arrive home from a game at Champaign Central. Charles Crabtree, a 72-year-old man who was a volunteer with the basketball team, was killed along with the driver of the truck, a 34-year-old man from Iowa whom Lillard declined to identify. Lillard said it’s unclear why the truck driver was traveling eastbound on westbound I-74, though initial reports suggested that police had received calls warning them that a semi-truck was traveling in the wrong direction before the crash.
The eight students on board the bus suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were taken to a hospital via ambulance, while the team’s coach was airlifted from the scene along with Crabtree and the truck driver. The ISP spokeswoman said the coach — a teacher at the school — had suffered “serious” injuries.
Normal West Athletic Director Stan Lewis told the Pantagraph that the team was the school’s freshman squad, though there were some older students mixed in.
“It’s our freshman team, but we only have a handful of freshmen who aren’t also up on the varsity,” he said. “There were some JV players who went with them.”
Dayna Brown, a spokeswoman for Normal West’s school district, said the school will be open on Thursday with counselors on hand. They also were available Wednesday night at Normal West, where parents and relatives had gathered to await news.
“People care about each other in this school and this community, and I think they just wanted to be together during this horrible tragedy. . . . We can’t thank this community enough for their support,” she told the Pantagraph. “We will be sure that everyone is supported in anything they need tomorrow.”
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