Eleven hospitalized after Missouri school bus wreck

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 | 6:47 p.m. CDT

BELGRADE — Eleven students were hospitalized Tuesday after their school bus slid off a narrow two-lane road and overturned in a rural eastern Missouri ditch, the district superintendent said.

The injured were among 35 students in kindergarten through 12th grade on the Valley R-6 School District bus that crashed in the afternoon near Belgrade, about 60 miles southwest of St. Louis. The bus driver was not hurt.

"The initial report from the (Missouri State) Highway Patrol is that possibly a student distracted the driver," school superintendent Brad Crocker said. The rear wheels of the bus slid off the roadway of Highway C into a ditch, and the bus overturned when the driver overcorrected, Crocker said.

Authorities were not aware of any life-threatening injuries. Three of the students were flown by helicopter to St. Louis Children's Hospital. Hospital spokeswoman Jackie Ferman said all three were in satisfactory condition. Two others were taken to Parkland Health Center in Farmington, but a spokeswoman there declined comment, citing privacy concerns.

The rest were taken to Washington County Memorial Hospital in Potosi, mostly with scrapes, bruises and perhaps some broken bones, said Leah Osbahr, chief executive officer of the hospital.

The accident happened on a warm, sunny day, and authorities said weather apparently was not a factor.

KMOX radio reported that a Missouri state trooper was passing when he first saw the bus with students trapped inside. A highway patrol spokesman was en route to the scene of the accident and unavailable for comment.

The accident was the nation's second serious school bus wreck in as many days. On Monday, a 5-year-old girl and a school bus driver died in Indianapolis after a bus slammed into a railroad bridge.