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Two killed in multi-vehicle accident involving two school buses

(photo: Bill Greenblatt/UPI)

By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

Gray Summit, MO – Two people were killed, including a student at a school district near Rolla, and at least 50 others injured in a multi-vehicle accident on Interstate 44 near Gray Summit, MO.

The four-vehicle accident occurred around 10:15 am. Two school buses were carrying members of the John F. Hodge High School band from St. James to Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka when the accident occurred.

Corporal Jeff Wilson with the Missouri Highway Patrol said the chain-reaction crash began when a pick-up truck rear-ended the cab of a tractor trailer slowing to enter a construction zone on eastbound Interstate 44. Wilson said the driver of the first bus could not stop in time to avoid the first accident.

"At the same time the second bus driver was traveling behind the first and she could not react in time either, however, attempted to swerve to the right," Wilson said. "As she did so, the front of the second bus struck the right rear of the first bus."

A female band member sitting in the back of the first bus was killed, as was the driver of the pick-up truck.

Thirty-five children were transported to Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital with minor injuries.

"They're bumped, they're shaken, they're bruised up, but we're taking really good care of them," Cardinal Glennon spokesman Bob Davidson said. Seventeen other victims were transported to other hospitals in the area. At least two suffered more serious injuries and remained hospitalized.

As for the legal ramifications of the accident, Cpl.Wilson said investigators will turn their findings over to the Franklin County prosecutor, who will determine whether to file charges.

I-44 was re-opened to traffic around 4 pm Thursday afternoon.