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20 Lake Villa students injured in I-94 bus crash

An accident involving school bus with students from Palombi Middle School Lake Villoccurred Tri-State near Deerfield Road. | Michelle LaVigne

An accident involving a school bus with students from Palombi Middle School in Lake Villa occurred on the Tri-State near Deerfield Road. | Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 18, 2013 1:17AM

DEERFIELD — Twenty students from Palombi Middle School in Lake Villa were hospitalized Wednesday after an accident involving two trucks and a District 41 school bus on Interstate 94.

Twenty of the 43 children on the bus were injured, but none of the injuries seemed to be life-threatening, said Illinois State Police District 15 Sgt. Timothy Moore.

The injured, including the male bus driver, were transported to Advocate Lutheran General Medical Center in Park Ridge, Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, NorthShore University Highland Park Hospital, Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville and Glenbrook Hospital.

Six of the least-injured patients were taken to Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, while three students and one adult were transported to Advocate Lutheran General with minor complaints, according to the hospitals.

Highland Park Hospital received five of the injured, while Glenbrook received three students, who were all treated and released. Condell received five students, and all were treated and released.

Lake Villa Community Consolidated School District Superintendent John Van Pelt said students were thrown about the bus and the injured had bumps and bruises.

“At this point, it doesn’t look like there are any serious injuries,” he said.

At 9:36 a.m. a two-axle box truck rear-ended a second truck. The driver of the second truck lost control of his vehicle and struck the right rear of the Durham School Services bus loaded with seventh-graders from Palombi Middle School traveling in a caravan with other school buses, said Moore.

Durham School Services spokesman Blaine Krage said the company sent nine buses to the school. In addition to the bus that was hit from behind, one of the trucks also knocked the side mirror off a second bus.

According to Van Pelt, the students were on a field trip to a Chicago Wolves hockey game at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont. A spokeswoman for the district said all of the children who were not taken to the hospital returned to the school.

“School safety and transportation is always on our mind and upmost in our priorities. We absolutely want to ensure students are always safe, whether it’s to a field trip, to and from school or during their time at school,” Van Pelt said.

The district sent two AlertNow messages to district families. This is the district’s emergency alert system that sends a message via telephone once the message is recorded, he said.

“I think we were able to respond and get communication out as quickly as possible,” Van Pelt said. “The individuals on site had information that was greater than information we had here. I think overall we’re able to get information out.”

Patricia Volling, District 41’s director of business, said it has been “well over a year” since any Lake Villa bus has been involved in a traffic accident. She did not have details of the most recent accident immediately available.

She said they will be reviewing how quickly they were able to alert parents after some complained they heard it on the news first. Van Pelt said that they have to try and balance how quickly to alert parents when they don’t have all the information.

“You get it as quickly as you can, but accuracy counts,” he said. Once the telephone alert went out to parents, the school was flooded with calls.

Fifteen ambulances from various fire departments responded to the crash on southbound I-94, about 100 yards south of Deerfield Road, according to Moore.

The vehicles remained upright, Moore said, but all the vehicles involved had to be towed. The crash snarled tollway traffic.

Neither of the truck drivers were taken to the hospital, Moore said.

The driver of the first box truck, Brian Bosch, 47, of Franklin, Wis., was ticketed for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. No other citations were issued.

Contributing to this report were Pat Krochmal, Todd Shields, Beth Kramer and Frank Abderholden

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