‘The unthinkable happened’: Alberta school bus driver dies, students injured …

EDMONTON – A school bus driver died and 14 students were injured when a bus crossed the centre line Monday morning and collided with a semi-truck north of Grimshaw.

The 36-year-old semi-truck driver and one student were flown to Edmonton with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

Six students suffered minor injures, including scrapes, bruises and cuts, and seven students received more serious injuries, including broken bones.

The injured students range in age from eight to 18 and are being treated at regional hospitals near Peace River.

Emergency crews were called to Highway 35 and Township Road 835, 10 kilometres north of Grimshaw, about 8:20 a.m.

RCMP said the preliminary investigation indicates the bus was travelling south when it crossed the centre line, hitting a northbound truck.

The 60-year-old man driving bus No. 369 was a fill-in driver. He died en route to hospital. His name has not been released.

Peace River School Division superintendent Paul Bennett was at the crash scene and described it as “very significant.”

A photo from the scene shows a yellow bus with a crumpled front end, resting next to a damaged red semi-truck.

The unthinkable happened this morning and we are very grateful for the quick response, level of care and support of all emergency responders

“The unthinkable happened this morning and we are very grateful for the quick response, level of care and support of all emergency responders,” Bennett said.

The 14 students aboard the bus were en route to three Peace River area schools in the public and Catholic system: Kennedy Elementary School, Grimshaw High School and Holy Family Catholic School.

Bennett said some of the children with minor injuries were taken to hospital by their parents. Some children have since been released from hospital, he said.

“A number of them were quite distraught,” he said of the students. “Some were just trying to process what happened.”

He said while there has been a bit of snow in the area, the roads were not treacherous.

A number of them were quite distraught

Letters were sent home with students at the affected schools and counsellors will be at the schools to support students and staff, Bennett said.

The Peace River School Division’s transportation department is responsible for about 3,500 students per day, according to the division’s website.

“Our professional school bus drivers travel a total of 44,565 kilometres and operate 80 routes per day and are an important part of the Peace River School Division family,” the website states.

Grimshaw is about 500 km northwest of Edmonton.

The collision remains under investigation.

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