A bus accident occurred on Interstate 74, southeast of Bloomington, resulting in two fatalities and nine injuries. On Wednesday, December 5 at 8:32 P.M. the Normal West junior varsity girls’ basketball team was traveling home from a game in Champaign against Central High School. The bus, carrying 11 people, was traveling in the westbound lanes of I-74 when a semi-truck was traveling in the wrong direction and collided with the bus head-on at mile marker 137.
Illinois State Police stated that the two fatalities included longtime Normal West volunteer, Charlie Crabtree, age 72 of Normal. The other was the driver of the semi truck, 34-year-old Ryan Hute of Delmar, Iowa, identified by Peoria County Coroner, Jamie Harwood. Hute died of multiple blunt forces. It is unknown why the driver was driving in the wrong direction.
The team’s coach, Steve Price, was airlifted from the scene to OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center, Peoria. OSF spokeswoman, Shelli Dankoff, stated that he was in fair condition as of Thursday. Normal West High School Principal Dave Johnson spoke to press Thursday morning, stating that Price suffered broken bones and will need surgery.
The driver of the bus, also taken to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, was in critical but stable condition as of Thursday. He has yet to be identified. The eight student-athletes were all transported to local hospitals for non life-threatening injuries, and have all been since released.
All westbound traffic was detoured off I-74 at the Downs exit after the accident. The highway reopened seven hours later.
After the accident, parents of the players were encouraged to gather at the school for updates. Staff was on hand to help support the parents and students. Normal west was open as usual on Thursday, with counselors available for support.
For more details, you can read the full story from The News Gazette.
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