1 boy dead in Idaho elementary school bus crash

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Associated Press

Posted on December 5, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 8:36 PM

KUNA, Idaho (AP) — A school bus collided with a dump truck Thursday morning at a rural Idaho intersection, killing an 11-year-old boy and injuring four other children.

Daniel Robert Cook died of blunt force trauma sustained in the 8 a.m. crash, which happened on a two-lane country road about 20 miles west of Boise, Canyon County Coroner Vicki DeGeus-Morris said.

Of the four children taken to the hospital, two were released after treatment and two others were transported to another facility for specialized care. Details on their injuries were not immediately available.

The bus driver also was taken to a hospital for monitoring; Idaho State Police said she was distraught after the accident but not physically injured.

The bus was carrying 12 children to Crimson Point Elementary School when the crash occurred in an area of small farms between Nampa and Kuna, a town of 16,000 on the edge of the Snake River Canyon. The truck driver was uninjured.

State Police investigators are still trying to determine exactly what happened and who might be at fault. Because the crash involved a fatality, charges could be forthcoming, said Cpl. Timothy Davidson.

"It's not just an infraction. It's going to be a criminal charge, more than likely," he said.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Theresa Baker said all the kids were sixth-graders or younger. The names and conditions of the injured children were not immediately released.

Daniel died at the scene.

Adam Cobb, whose son was friends with Daniel, was at the crash site later to collect the deceased boy's belongings for the family. Cobb's son wasn't among the kids on the bus.

"It's a terrible loss not only for the family but for the community," Cobb said. "Daniel loved to wrestle and play football. He was just the kind of kid you'd want at your home. We love him — he was just a good boy."

Daniel was a sixth-grader at Crimson Point, in the Kuna School District. He lived nearby and would have been on the bus for only a few minutes before the crash, Cobb said.

Investigators said Daniel's parents arrived at the scene about 30 minutes after the wreck and were unaware of their son's condition. State Police Sgt. John Burke said the father knew where his son sat on the bus and immediately recognized the damage to that section of the vehicle.

"It's a terrible thing," Burke said, adding that Daniel's family is devastated. "They need our prayers, and all we can do is hope they can get through it."

Investigators say the dump truck was traveling north on Happy Valley Road when the driver approached the four-way intersection. The speed limit was 50 mph, and the truck had no stop sign. The bus was traveling east on the intersecting roadway, which did have a stop sign.

Weather and road conditions were not factors, and speed before impact appeared to be low, investigators said.

Burke said it's too early to determine what went wrong.

"We can't really speculate," he said. "We need to gather more information and continue the investigation."

The rear right section of the bus had visible damage, with broken windows and a torn metal exterior. The front portion of the dump truck was lying in a nearby yard.

The truck belonged to the driver, whose name was not released.

A routine inspection of the bus found no maintenance issues, but a similar inspection of the truck found multiple equipment violations. Davidson said it's unclear whether those deficiencies played a role in the crash.

Idaho Department of Education Spokeswoman Melissa McGrath said the Kuna School District runs its own bussing operation, meaning it buys the vehicles and hires its own drivers.

The last time a student died in a bus crash in Idaho was in Boise in 1969, she said.

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Associated Press writer Rebecca Boone and correspondent Todd Dvorak in Boise contributed to this report.

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