Just after 8 o’clock Friday morning, a school bus carrying 35 children, kindergarten through fifth grade, collided with a yellow jeep wrangler at the intersection of Highway 173 and Kilbourne.
A Jeep Cherokee was also hit. The bus spun around and landed on its side.
First responders say most of the kids were able to walk themselves off of the bus after the accident, though some had minor fractures and bruises. One of the kids on the bus was 6-year-old Julian Moreno. His father, Albert was at work about 25 minutes away when he got the call–
“Honestly it was the longest 25 minute drive,” he said, not knowing enough information.
He said when he arrived at the school, he and other parents were quickly reassured that all the kids had survived and that none of them were seriously injured. Albert Moreno said it is a miracle considering the bus was on its side, and there are no seat belts on the bus.
The kids were taken to hospitals in Libertyville and Waukegan.
“He was fortunate– just playing, that’s when it really hit me like wow ya know,” Albert said.
The driver of the Jeep Wrangler, 62-year-old Philip Smith, was killed. The two people in the Cherokee survived.
Investigators were on the scene for most of the day trying to figure out which driver was at fault. The bus is operated by a company called Durham School Services– which released a statement today reading in part:
“Safety is Durham’s top priority, and we are taking every step necessary to ensure that this accident is investigated and responded to appropriately.”
Friday morning, the Lake County Sheriffs’ Department reported that witnesses had said the woman driving the bus ran the red light, but during a news conference this afternoon– investigators said it’s not clear.
Lake County Sheriff’s Sgt. Sara Balmes said “this morning witnesses told us the light was red, since then we’ve had witnesses told us the light was possibly not red.”
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