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District cancels all classes after school bus crash kills child, injures 23 other students

Two yellow school buses drive past along a tree-lined country road with a large green ditch on the side.
Alejandro Figueroa
Two school buses drive past the site where a Northwestern Local Schools bus was struck and rolled over shortly after 8 am Tuesday, Aug. 22, on state Route 41 in German Township in Clark County, Ohio.

Northwestern Local Schools canceled all classes for Wednesday and Thursday following a rollover school bus crash that killed one elementary studentand injured 23 other children.

Grief counselors will be at the schools on Wednesday, according to the district's Facebook page.

"The elementary and the (Junior/Senior) High will open at 8 a.m. for students, staff, and community members who need assistance and want to talk to a mental health specialist," the Facebook post says. "Our hearts and prayers go out to the families that have been impacted by this tragedy."

Northwestern schools also canceled classes for Thursday. It said in a Facebook post that it will use the day to provide teachers training to support students when they return on Friday.

Here's what we know about the crash right now:

  • The driver of a 2010 Honda Odyssey minivan crossed left of center shortly after 8 a.m. Tuesday on state Route 41 about a mile and a half from the Northwestern schools campus, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The bus driver saw the minivan and attempted to swerve out of the way, but the Odyssey struck the rear of the bus. That caused the bus to rollover.
  • One elementary student was ejected and died at the scene. The child hasn't been identified.
  • 23 other students were transported to local hospitals, one of them with serious, life-threatening injuries.
  • The minivan driver, Hermanio Joseph, 35, and his passenger, Robert Mompremier, 37, were treated for non-life-threatening injuries at Springfield Regional Medical Center. He has been charged with vehicular homicide, a fourth degree felony, according to documents filed with the Clark County Municipal Clerk.
  • The Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association declared a mass casualty incident.
  • A parent reunification center was set up at the German Twp. Firehouse in the immediate aftermath of the crash.
  • Support from neighboring districts and local and national leaders has poured in for the Northwestern community. Lawrenceville Church of God will hold a community prayer service at 6 p.m. today, Aug. 23, at the church, 3131 Foxhollow Road. It also will be live streamed on Facebook.

David Lewis lives on the corner of Lawrenceville Drive and Troy Road. The bus crash site is visible from his house. The school bus overturned on his property. The Honda Odyssey spun to a stop on another section of his property across the road. Lewis was home when the crash happened and saw the aftermath.
Lewis has a pre-school age daughter himself.

"It's sad because you never you know — you see your kids, on Facebook and Instagram and the parents post pictures of them holding up the (first day of school) signs," Lewis said. "And just you never think that soon as you send them off and then 3 minutes later, you get a phone call ... It's just sadness."

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine called the crash heartbreaking and offered condolences to the family of the student killed.

"Our hearts also go out to everyone on the bus, as well as their families, peers, and teachers. Our prayers are with you all," DeWine said in a statement on Tuesday.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona spoke in Cincinnati on Tuesday morning, saying he was praying for the families and the community.

"We recognize that whether or not your children were on that bus, that affects the entire community ... We are thinking about the families. It's a very difficult way to start. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, and if there's anything we can do to support them, we're going to be there."

Kathryn Mobley is an award-winning broadcast journalist, crafting stories for more than 30 years. She’s reported and produced for TV, NPR affiliate and for the web. Mobley also contributes to several area community groups. She sings tenor with World House Choir (Yellow Springs), she’s a board member of the Beavercreek Community Theatre and volunteers with two community television operations, DATV (Dayton) and MVCC (Centerville).

Email: kmobley@wyso.org
Cell phone: (937) 952-9924
Alejandro Figueroa covers food insecurity and the business of food for WYSO through Report for America — a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Alejandro particularly covers the lack of access to healthy and affordable food in Southwest Ohio communities, and what local government and nonprofits are doing to address it. He also covers rural and urban farming

Email: afigueroa@wyso.org
Phone: 937-917-5943