On Tuesday afternoon, a tragic incident occurred at the 7700 block of State Highway 58 in Meigs County, Tennessee when a utility truck crashed onto a school bus.
A seven-year-old girl and the driver are dead and multiple other children are injured after the school bus crash. Tennessee officials have not yet released the identity of the female student killed or the name of the woman who was driving the bus.
Five other children were airlifted to Elanger Baroness Hospital in Chattanooga with a varying degree of injuries. One of those is a boy who’s in critical condition. Two more children were driven away from the scene by ambulance. Their conditions are not known.
Tennessee Highway Patrol Lieutenant Bill Miller said that 22 children were on the bus at the time of the crash. It’s not yet clear how many in total were injured. He added that a Service Electric truck was heading north on Highway 58 when the driver lost control and overcorrected.
“The driver exited the roadway to the right, lost control of his vehicle the driver of that service truck then overcorrected its steering to the left and then went back on to the highway,” Miller said.
The truck then ‘went into a side-skid’ and veered into the oncoming bus lane, striking the school bus. The bus driver was traveling in her lane and had no time to avoid the crash, Miller added.
According to police, the driver of the utility truck was hospitalized with minor injuries.
In a news conference, Meigs County Sheriff Jackie Melton said that this was an incident that ‘really touched home’, calling it a ‘tough, tough day’.
“Never in your wildest dreams do you think when you go out the door that you’ll deal with something like this,” Clint Baker, Superintendent for the district added. “It’s a tragedy. There’s no other way to describe it.”
Meigs County Board of Education said all parents had been contacted and were either reunited with their children or taken to area hospitals.
A spokesperson for Blood Assurance in Hamilton County, which collects blood for hospitals in the area, said it had a ‘critical need’ for blood donations due to the injuries. Four locations to donate blood were open until 10:00 pm.
An investigation has been launched into the circumstances surrounding the crash. “The story is yet to play out with this investigation,” District Attorney Russell Johnson said.
In a statement, Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said that she and the entire staff at the Tennessee Department of Education are ‘deeply saddened’ to hear about the crash.
“No words can express our sympathies for those lives that were lost. We send our deepest condolences to the students, families, school staff and leaders, district staff, and the entire Meigs County community affected by this tragic accident and wish healing for all those injured,” Schwinn said.
“The department has communicated with district leaders and staff in Meigs County and surrounding areas and is mobilizing to support this community in safety response and services.”