SUV driver killed in rollover school bus crash on Rt. 173 - FOX 32 News Chicago

1 killed in rollover school bus crash, minor injuries to kids

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This was the bus that transported the Newport students from the crash site to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville. (Photo courtesy of FOX 32's Lisa Chavarria) This was the bus that transported the Newport students from the crash site to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville. (Photo courtesy of FOX 32's Lisa Chavarria)
Jourdon East, 11, a 5th grader at Newport Elementary, received 22 stitches to his forehead and lost his top two  teeth in the bus accident. Jourdon East, 11, a 5th grader at Newport Elementary, received 22 stitches to his forehead and lost his top two teeth in the bus accident.
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

One person is dead after a school bus crash at Rt. 173 and Kilbourne in Wadsworth Friday. Two other vehicles sustained heavy damage, but no children were seriously injured.

The school bus headed for Newport Elementary School ended up on its side near the edge of the road in Wadsworth at 8:03 a.m. Friday, just one mile from the school. There were 35 students on the bus.

All the children survived the accident and none of them sustained life-threatening injuries - just a few bumps, bruises and scrapes. They tried to climb out of the bus after the accident. The female bus driver was not injured.

Police said bus was traveling westbound on Rt. 173 when it collided with a Jeep Wrangler headed southbound on Kilbourne. The Wrangler was struck on the passenger side and pushed west. The yellow vehicle was flattened, with its front roll bar completely removed and the hood flattened and squashed into the two front seats. Debris was scattered in adjacent farm fields.

Authorities at first were told the bus driver might have run a red light before t-boning the Wrangler, but say they now have conflicting witness statements and don't know who was at fault.

"We have had additional witnesses come forward and provide additional testimony as to what they observed happened," Sgt. Sara Balmes explained. "We have disputes as to the color of the light when the bus entered the intersection at this time."

The bus driver was speaking with authorities as part of their investigation, and toxicology tests were being performed on both drivers. No charges had been filed as of late Friday afternoon.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office confirmed the male driver of the Wrangler killed in the crash was 62-year-old Philip Smith of Beach Park. The coroner said he died at the scene. An autopsy is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday.

Neighbors say Smith was a great guy.

"Phil was the first one to come over and introduce himself when I moved in, just very likeable guy," the victim's neighbor Bob Toms said. "He's just one of the neighbors that all the neighbors know."

A Jeep Cherokee was also involved in the accident and sustained heavy front-end damage. Police are still investigating what direction it was traveling and how it contributed to the crash. The bus windows shattered during the rollover.

More than 15 ambulances were sent to the scene - 45 miles north of Chicago - from several surrounding fire departments. A medical helicopter waited in a field nearby. Emergency crews worked quickly and efficiently to make sure all the crash victims were recovered safely.

AirFOX showed children walking away from the scene on their own, accompanied by firefighters. Rescuers said the kids had a range of emotion after the crash.

"Some of the kids were upbeat, jovial as if they just got off a ride at Great America," Lake County Sheriff Chief Brian Keller said. "Other kids were asking for their mother or father and wanted to go home."

23 children were transported to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville. A majority were in good condition and a few were in fair to serious condition. 13 of them were released from the hospital around noon on Friday. Those that remained were with their parents.

"My coworker drover me because I was just falling to pieces, because of what happened," says mother Kendall McBride. "You hear a rollover bus and you don't know what's going on."

Kendall McBride's 9-year-old daughter Jazmine suffered only a little bump on her head.

"We all fell off our seats, and then everybody started crying," Jazmine says. "All the windows were broken, but bus on top was crumpled and all that stuff."

11-year-old Jourdon East was one of the more seriously injured students aboard the bus. 

"I was looking out the window and then I saw the yellow jeep, and then we it just hit the bus and everyone just started flying around," Jourdon explained.

His mother is grateful his injuries were not any worse.

"He had approximately 22 stitches to the forehead and he lost his two top permanent teeth," his mother, Cassandra East says.

In total, 39 people were transported from the scene to receive medical treatment. About twelve were transported by ambulance to other local hospitals. One student was in fair condition and fiver were in good condition at Vista Medical Center East. The other students were also sent straight to Newport School.

Parents praised the response by everyone involved.

Everybody did a bang up job, they rocked it," says father Eric Homlquist. "This was a very tense situation, I know there were a lot of angry parents me being one of them, probably one of the most angry, they handled it very well."

Police and fire personnel shut down that area and redirected traffic for over an hour Friday morning. They asked the public to please stay away from that intersection, so that they have room to clear the scene and investigate the crash properly, as well as be able to transport victims from the crash.

Beach Park School District confirmed the bus was No. 23. They were almost to the school when the accident took place.

Transportation figures show that this intersection is a dangerous one with 53 crashes, including one fatal from 2004 to 2011. As a result, last year, a stoplight was installed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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