Bus accident sends dozens to hospitals

No injuries to Milton Pope students are life-threatening

MARSEILLES, Ill. — Forty-one people were transported to area hospitals following a pickup truck-versus-school bus accident Monday, Sept. 10, in Marseilles.

The bus, driven by Diane L. Kelley, 70, of Marseilles, was just two miles from dropping off about 60 of the total 238 kindergarten through eighth-grade students at Milton Pope School in Marseilles when the accident occurred shortly after 8 a.m.

A Dodge Dakota pickup truck was southbound on E. 25th Road when it entered the intersection at N. 32nd Road, colliding with the school bus. The bus was eastbound on N. 32nd Road at the time.

The accident was still under investigation by the La Salle County Sheriff's Office and the La Salle County State's Attorney's Office, but La Salle County Sheriff Tom Templeton said Monday afternoon accident reconstructionists believed the bus rolled 1 1/4 times before coming to a stop on its side.

The driver of the pickup, Michael A. Shelton, 44, of Seneca, was transported to Morris Hospital for his injuries and was cited for disobeying a stop sign, Templeton said.

Thirty-nine students were transported to area hospitals — Morris Hospital, Valley West Community Hospital in Sandwich, OSF Saint Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa and St. Mary's Hospital in Streator. Kelley was transported to St. Mary's.

Templeton had not heard any updates on patient conditions as of about 3:30 p.m. Monday, but no injuries were expected to be life-threatening.

Twenty-two of the students had already been released to their parents by that time.

Parents were notified of the accident and Milton Pope School was shut down for the day by about 11 a.m.

"You dread this kind of thing happening to children. It's something no one ever wants to see, but the outcome was probably as good as could possibly be expected," said Milton Pope Interim Superintendent Dave Hermann. "There were some injuries, but none at this point are life-threatening."

Hermann credited the eyewitnesses for their immediate reaction and the La Salle County Sheriff's Office and other local emergency agencies for their quick responses.

The superintendent and principal at Milton Pope had planned to visit each of the hospitals Monday.

"I have found that the kids who were not in the accident have been more resilient than the adults," Hermann said. "Adults are somewhat more shaken than the kids are."

Milton Pope students were expected to return to class Tuesday morning. A crisis team including social workers and psychologists was to be on campus as well, Hermann said.

Assisting Marseilles Fire and Ambulance at the scene were: Marseilles Police, Seneca Ambulance and Fire, Sheridan Ambulance, Newark Fire and Ambulance, Ottawa Ambulance, Streator Advanced Ambulance, Utica Ambulance, Peru Ambulance and Minooka Ambulance.

Jessica Shumaker contributed to the Morris Daily Herald's coverage of this story.