A school bus was carrying the Natrona County High School speech and debate team to Green River on Friday morning when a semitruck rammed the bus and shoved it off Interstate 80 near Rawlins, a Casper mother of two team members told Cowboy State Daily.
Lindsey Benham said that she had two teens on that bus – a son and a daughter. It was heading from Casper to Green River for a speech and debate tournament, nearing the Creston Junction exit westbound when a semitruck rear-ended it, Benham said.
“They saw the semi coming at them and they thought it was going to stop, and it didn’t,” said Benham. “It hit them.”
Benham said the bus shot to the right, off the Interstate. Neither vehicle rolled.
Benham said her teens have been in touch with her throughout the incident, and she also has a Life 360 application by which she tracks their phones.
“They’re all in the Rawlins hospital right now getting checked out,” Benham said.
Her son hit his head; he’d been sitting in the back. Her daughter’s shoulder was sore, so personnel X-rayed it and it was fine, she said.
Other teens weren’t so lucky.
Orion Tinoco, a sophomore at Natrona County High School, was in school Friday and not on the bus, but has been monitoring the incident by phone.
Tinoco said peers are reporting various injuries, including a concussion, a fractured femur and an arm or shoulder injury. They've also given reports of whiplash, Tinoco said.
The truck driver, Lovepreet Singh of Santa Rosa, California, was cited for driving too fast for conditions, according to a Friday afternoon statement by the Wyoming Highway Patrol. Speed is being investigated as the overall crash factor, the statement says.
Benham said she’s also received updates from the school principal.
Carbon County School District No. 1 personnel helped with to get the children home Friday, a statement by Natrona County School District No. 1 indicates.
Tanya Southerland, district spokeswoman, sent an update Friday afternoon saying all students and staff were headed home to Casper, including those on a Kelly Walsh High School speech on debate bus.
The Kelly Walsh bus was not involved in the crash, the update says.
“We want to share our appreciation to the staff, students, the Wyoming Highway Patrol, all Carbon County first responder agencies, Carbon County School District #1, Natrona County Emergency Management, and all others who worked diligently to provide support, assistance, and resources to NCSD, our students/staff, and each other, during this incident,” the statement says.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation posted an advisory at about 10:08 a.m. – roughly half an hour after the impact – warning travelers to give first responders plenty of room. The department’s photo shows a bus several feet off the interstate, at an angle to it, and a semitruck in the weeds with its tail end still on the road, also at an angle to it.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.