Nearly 30 students evaluated at hospital following Poplar Bluff bus crash

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- Authorities said a pickup struck a Poplar Bluff R-I school bus early Monday morning after running a red light, sending the nearly 30 students on board to the hospital.

The accident occurred at about 6:45 a.m. at the intersection of Westwood and Kanell boulevards.

The bus, which was being operated by Patricia Presson, was northbound on Westwood Boulevard and was attempting to make a left-hand turn to go west on Kanell Boulevard when a pickup driven by James Kelley "ran the red light … striking the bus," according to Poplar Bluff Deputy Police Chief Jeff Rolland. The bus, he said, was en route to the 5th & 6th Grade Center at the time of the crash.

Although Presson, 50, of Poplar Bluff, was wearing her seat belt, the impact "knocked her out of the driver's seat," said Patrolman Kenny Carpenter, who investigated the crash. "She was dangling [in her seat], trying to regain control of the bus."

Presson, Carpenter said, was unable to gain control of the bus, which ran off into the ditch on the southwest corner of Kanell. The students, he said, "seemed to be in their little area [seats] as best I can tell."

Officers, Rolland said, rerouted traffic around the accident scene while the students were secured and the roadway was cleared.

All the students, as well as Kelley, were taken to Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center, Rolland said.

The majority of the students, Rolland said, were taken to the hospital by another bus for a precautionary evaluation. No serious injuries were reported, only what Rolland described as "bumps and bruises."

Kelley, 80, of Poplar Bluff, as well as Presson and one student were taken by ambulance to the hospital, Carpenter said.

According to Poplar Bluff Superintendent Chris Hon, there were 29 students on the bus at the time.

Hon said the student taken by ambulance already had been dismissed by 8:30 a.m. She did not have serious injuries, he said.

"Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center staff has helped out tremendously in getting everyone checked out," Hon said. "There is [school] administration here at the hospital as the students are getting checked out."

Hon said Presson was "banged up," but is going to be OK.

At 8:30 a.m., Hon said, medical personnel still were evaluating the students, who were being picked up at the hospital by their parents.

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