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By KRISTIN SHERRARD and JEFF MOORE
A school bus accident on Boone Road in Carroll County claimed the lives of two Head Start students Monday afternoon when the bus veered off the road to the left, partially overturned onto its side and hit a tree.
Kentucky State Police Post 5 spokesman Trooper Brad Arterburn said there were nine Head Start students on the bus at the time of the wreck.
The two children who were killed in the accident have been identified as Ryder Deitz and Caroline Tuttle, both three years old, of Carrollton, according to a KSP news release Tuesday afternoon.
Tuttle’s maternal grandparents are Jerry and Cecelia Oak, Bedford.
Three children were flown from the scene by helicopter to Kosairs Children’s Hospital in Louisville, while the fourth was flown to the University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington Monday night.
Three additional students on the bus were taken by ambulance to Carroll County Memorial Hospital. Initially, the children were going to be released. However, according to Cis Gruebbel, director of nursing at Kosairs Children’s Hospital, the medical director at Carroll County Memorial Hospital determined it was best to send the children on to Kosairs to ensure they had not missed anything due to the fact that the roof of the bus collapsed during the accident.
“They did an absolutely amazing job,” at CCMH, Gruebbel said, and she extended her praise to CCMH chief nursing officer Lisa Pennick for the care they provided to the children.
All six children transported to Kosairs were ages three and four.
Two of the three children transported by ambulance were examined and discharged, while the third child was admitted and on the medical surgical floor of the hospital and could be released by tomorrow, Gruebell said.
The three children brought to Kosairs by helicopter were in the Intensive Care Unit as of 11 a.m. Tuesday.
All of the children were listed in stable condition, she said.
Injuries that the children sustained in the accident are those that would be expected in a situation such as this, including broken bones, leg fractures and skull fractures, she said.
Gruebbel said one child in ICU is expected to be moved to the medical surgical floor in the next day. The two children with skull fractures will remain in ICU for 72 hours to watch for swelling in the brain due to the fractures, which she said is standard in the case of head trauma.
One child has injuries in abdominal and chest area. She said those could have resulted from either the roof collapse or from the seat belts on the bus.
Family members of the children are with them at the hospital.
She said all the children at Kosairs have a good prognosis. “The kiddos are going to recover well in the next few days,” she said.
The child flown to the University of Kentucky Medical Center was listed in serious condition as of noon Tuesday, according to a KSP news release.
Arterburn said an adult bus assistant also was also injured and flown to University of Kentucky Medical Center for treatment. The condition of the bus assistant was unknown as of noon Tuesday.
The accident was reported to Carroll County dispatch at 4:32 p.m. at 3258 Boone Road. Police, fire and rescue units from multiple agencies responded to the scene, and five helicopters from Air Methods and Stat Flight responded to transport the injured from the scene.
The two children were pronounced dead at the scene by Carroll County Coroner David Wilhoite.
“It’s the worst thing you can imagine for anybody that shows up, EMS, fire department, us, it doesn’t matter,” Arterburn said at the news conference Monday night. “Anytime this happens to children, that’s the worst part of our job.”
“Some were trapped and had to be pulled out,” he said. Arterburn confirmed that the Jaws of Life had to be used at the scene to extract the passengers from the bus.
Arterburn said the bus driver was coherent and cooperative at the scene and taken by KSP to CCMH for chemical testing, which he said is standard in this type of accident. She was not injured and was released from the hospital.
Carroll County Schools Superintendent Lisa James released the following statement Monday night: “A tragic bus accident has occurred involving children enrolled in the Carroll County School District. The accident is still under investigation by local police authorities and school district personnel. At present, we are most concerned about the children involved and their families. Counselors and administrators have been present at area hospitals with families of some of the children involved in the accident. The school district will have counselors available tomorrow at all of the district schools.”
Kentucky State Police began reconstructing the scene of the accident Monday night, Arterburn said. As of Tuesday afternoon, one team is examining the bus to look for any mechanical issues or other factors that could have contributed to the crash, according to state police. Another reconstructionist team is at the crash site finishing up the investigation at the scene. Arterburn said officials do not yet know the cause.
Early reports indicated that a second vehicle was involved; however, he was unable to confirm that.
Arterburn said Monday night that accident reconstructionist Trooper Dusty Corbin had not yet talked with the bus driver and that he would be doing that as part of his investigation.
The following agencies responded to the scene: Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Carrollton Police Department, Carroll County EMS, Carroll County Rescue, Ghent Fire Protection District, Gallatin County EMS, Henry County EMS, Carroll County Coroner, Henry County Coroner.