AURORA, Ind. — Twenty students and two drivers were injured in a crash involving a school bus and a garbage truck, according to Indiana State Police and hospital officials.
The South Dearborn Community School Corporation bus was headed eastbound on State Route 350 just before 8 a.m. when it collided with a stationary Rumpke garbage truck near Mount Sinai Road, Indiana State Police Sgt. Stephen Wheeles said.
Seventh-grader Dakota Jones was sitting near the front of the bus when it crashed.
"All I saw was dust. I heard noises, I heard people screaming and I went to the back of the bus, just trying to get away from this," he said. "And then, people were just — total panic. I was in shock."
Twenty students aboard the bus at the time were injured, according to Dr. Richard Cardosi, medical director of Highpoint Health. The bus driver and the Rumpke driver were also injured, hospital officials said. None of the injuries were life-threatening. Most of the injured were treated at Highpoint Health in Lawrenceburg. Two people were transferred to Cincinnati hospitals, including one 13-year-old brought to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
The Rumpke driver, who was not in the truck at the time of the crash, was also taken to a hospital because he was injured by debris, according to Rumpke spokeswoman Molly Yeager.
Four students on the bus at the time of the crash were transferred to another bus and taken to school, Wheeles said. A parent picked up one of those students at the school and took them to a hospital.
Superintendent Eric Lows said most of the students on board attend South Dearborn Middle and High Schools. Students on the bus included those going to: St. John Lutheran School and St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Moores Hill Elementary and the South Dearborn campus, which includes Aurora Elementary School, South Dearborn Middle School and South Dearborn High School, Lows said.
Of the students injured, most were seventh- through ninth-graders. One sixth-grader and one high school junior were also injured.
Cardosi said Highpoint normally relies on University of Cincinnati Medical Center and Children's Hospital for severe trauma cases. However, a medical helicopter that was called was unable to fly due to weather.
"You train for these kind of situations and you hope they never really occur, and here it was unfolding before our eyes," he said.
Cardosi said he anticipated all patients remaining at Highpoint Wednesday afternoon would be able to go home, and wouldn't need to be transferred to another hospital.
Wheeles and Lows gave updates on the crash at a noon press conference. Watch the full conference below:
The bus, a 2003 Thomas Built, has been in operation in the school district since November 2013, according to an Indiana State Police report. The bus has had all of its inspections (Indiana state law requires all buses older than 12 years old to be inspected twice a year), and the bus has had no major issues over the past five and a half years, reports say.
Wheeles said Indiana State Police are leading the investigation into the crash. It will take some time for crash reconstructionists to determine why the bus driver didn't see the truck, he said.
Lows said the bus driver is a veteran employee who is "shouldering a lot of this burden on himself."
Christa Armbruster had two nephews on the bus. She said she knows the man behind the wheel is "an excellent driver" who's been driving the school bus since she was in kindergarten
"He's real cautious, he's real slow," she said.