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Semi, school bus involved in US 45 crash

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A semi tractor involved in a school bus and motor vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 45 came to rest in the eastbound lane. The truck driver was flown to ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah. John Faucher photo

Three children injured

By John Faucher and Scott Bellile

Eleven individuals were treated at area hospitals following a crash involving a semi-tractor and a New London school bus.

Area rescue personnel were dispatched to U.S. Highway 45 south of Givens Road in the town of Hortonia shortly after 7:20 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21.

“What happened was a school bus was northbound on Highway 45, stopped at a residence to pick up a child,” Outagamie County Sheriff’s Office Staff Sgt. Ryan Carpenter said. “Information indicated it had its lights on and stop arm extended at the time. It then got rear-ended by a semi-truck and the semi-truck pushed the school bus in to the southbound lane, where it struck another vehicle that was stopped for the school bus. The semi-truck was then rear-ended by the passenger car.”

Megan Mulholland, a spokesperson for ThedaCare, said all 11 individuals who were treated were in “good condition.”

ThedaStar Air Medical flew the male semi driver to ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah, where ThedaCare’s trauma center is located.

Three children ages 11 to 14 were transported to ThedaCare Medical Center-New London for minor injuries.

The bus driver and another adult were also transported to ThedaCare Medical Center-New London.

Parents later brought five more children to ThedaCare Medical Center-New London’s emergency department for check-ups.

Mulholland said she did not know if any of those examined reported injuries, but they too were found to be OK.

School District Administrator Kathy Gwidt said the students involved in the crash were a mix of New London Middle School and New London High School students.

About a quarter of the bus’s ridership was on the bus at the time of the crash, Gwidt said. Many students did not plan to ride that morning due to extra-curricular activities taking place at their schools.

Gwidt said the school worked to notify all parents whose children were involved. For students who did not go to the hospital, staff greeted them at the door when they arrived to their schools. Students also had the option to go home and recover.

“We know that anytime there is a bus involved in any type of incident, it’s very scary for all involved,” Gwidt said. “Of course, the students’ safety is our immediate concern.”

The New London Fire Department had to use equipment to extract a girl from the bus, New London Fire Capt. Don Conat said. She was seated in the back and was pinned after the semi rear-ended the bus.

“Her legs were pinched in between the seats,” Conat said. “Her seat was pushed ahead and her legs were wedged in the small spot between her seat and the seat in front of her. We used jaws equipment to cut the seat in front of her apart and free her legs. And she was able to walk off the school bus on her own power.”

By 11 a.m., Gwidt said the girl had been released from the hospital. Waupaca County Haz-Mat was called to contain leaking diesel that spilled from both the bus and the semi onto the road and into the ditch, Conat said.

A portion of U.S. Highway 45 from State Highway 15 to County TT remained closed all morning.

Outagamie County Sheriff’s Office, Gold Cross Ambulance, ThedaStar air service, first responders, Wisconsin State Patrol and Waupaca County Haz-Mat responded to the scene.

“We’re certainly grateful to all the authorities, the first responders, to everyone that helped in any way, and certainly to our families who have been very supportive and very patient as we work to get updates to further share with folks,” Gwidt said.

The last serious bus crash in the School District of New London occurred March 24, 2015. Edgar Soriano, 19, of Manawa, died after he rear-ended a bus on State Highway 54 in the town of Mukwa. No children were injured in that crash.

The school district owns its buses and contracts its services through Kobussen.


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