By SCOTT McCLOSKEY and IAN HICKS
The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register
WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. — At least 26 Buckeye Local High School students and one adult were treated at local hospitals Thursday after their school bus left the road and crashed into a tree along W.Va. 88 about a mile south of West Liberty.
Although several of the students suffered severe injuries, none are believed to be life-threatening. Speed appears to have been a contributing factor, according to Senior Trooper K.M. Parker of the West Virginia State Police, which is investigating the crash.
Wheeling Hospital spokesman Gregg Warren said 16 patients were treated at the facility’s emergency/trauma center. Four of those patients were admitted, including one who was treated in the intensive care unit with multiple fractures.
Warren said six ER physicians treated patients, along with ER/trauma nurses. He said two trauma surgeons were on standby.
Karin Janiszewski, spokeswoman for Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling and East Ohio Regional Hospital in Martins Ferry, said another 10 patients were treated at OVMC and one at EORH. All but two of those patients have been released, Janiszewski said.
The students, who were members of Buckeye Local’s varsity football team, were on their way to visit a West Liberty University football practice when the accident occurred just before 5:30 p.m., according to Buckeye Local Interim Superintendent Scott Celestin. A section of W.Va. 88 was closed for more than two hours as first responders from multiple Ohio and Brooke county agencies transported students from the scene.
While the upper rear of the bus sustained heavy damage with several broken windows, it was driven from the scene after the uninjured students were escorted to a second school bus that arrived a short time later. Several parents also arrived on the scene.
“They were going to observe their practice and actually interact with them and get some tips on how to run a successful practice,” Celestin said of the students on the bus.
Parker said there were about 40 people on the bus at the time of the crash. The driver, whose name was not released late Thursday, was cited, according to Parker.
The accident remains under investigation.
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