School bus wreck turns deadly

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Web Editor - Michael Vick
Photojournalist - Mark Owen

CARLISLE COUNTY, Ky. — One child is dead and many more are injured following a school bus crash in Carlisle County, Kentucky.

The Carlisle County school bus went off the road, rolling over into a steep embankment on the side of U.S. Highway 62 near Cunningham.

The 6-year-old child was pronounced dead at the scene. One adult and sixteen children were transported by ambulance to area hospitals. The bus driver was airlifted to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, while an adult chaperone was airlifted to a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

What happened is every parent's worst nightmare. Your child goes to school and never comes home.

Word of the crash spread quickly and dozens of panicked parents rushed to the scene to try to find their kids.

A local woman said she's grateful her daughter is even alive but admits the whole thing was traumatizing.

She was a chaperone on the field trip her daughter was on and saw the bus crash behind her, knowing that was the bus her daughter was on.

For Laura Pender, just holding her baby girl Cheyenne is a blessing.

"She's a strong one," Pender said.

And as playful as any 7-year-old girl can be.

"She's strong. She strong inside and out," Pender said.

You'd never know little Cheyenne was on the bus earlier Monday when it ran off the road, rolled over and then crashed on its side, landing in the ditch. Cheyenne, like the 26 6- and 7-year-olds, had to be pulled out of a window.

"I was actually in front of that first bus," Pender said. "There were three buses. I was in front of the first."

Pender saw the accident happening and turned around to look for Cheyenne.

"When we first got there, I couldn't find my daughter. There were so many parents, so many kids, I couldn't find her at first. I went down to the bus she wasn't in the bus. So I ran uphill, yelled her name. When she heard me, she jumped up, came over gave me a hug and said 'Mommy, I'm not ever riding a bus again.'"

Pender won't press her daughter for details of the crash and fears she's traumatized.

"Just taking her to the hospital, she's like, can you slow down, drive 20. It'll be a little while for kids to get over it."

Right now, she just wants her baby to know everything will be alright.

"Mom has a new job of taking her back and forth to school every day. That's what we're going to do."

School is out Tusday, May 17, due to election day. While the superintendent wouldn't comment, Pender told Local 6 the school told her counselors will be available all day Wednesday to help students deal with trauma and grief. She'll be taking full advantage of that.

Kentucky State Police are investigating the cause of the accident.

The bus carrying 27 first and second grade students were coming back from a field trip to a sports complex. The children were part of an accelerated reader program.

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