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School bus overturns in western Ky., students hurt

SMITHLAND, Ky. (AP) – A bus carrying a high school girls softball team overturned Friday in far-western Kentucky, injuring several students.

Kentucky State Police say the school bus was carrying the Union County High School girls’ softball team and had 28 people on board when the accident occurred on U.S. 60 just before 5 p.m. CDT, in Livingston County, along the Ohio River.

The bus ran off the right shoulder, then swerved to the other side of the road, rotating 180 degrees before rolling on to its side, State Police Trooper Richie Wright said Friday night.

Wright said 25 of those on board were taken to local hospitals with non-life threatening injuries. One patient was airlifted from the scene, but it was not due to serious injuries, Wright said.

“When you have 25 injured, that takes a lot of resources from a lot of counties,” Wright said. “By the time they had that many patients, they needed the helicopter to take one to the hospital.”

Officials expressed relief that more of those on board weren’t seriously injured.

“Boy, they really dodged the bullet on this one,” Kentucky Transportation Cabinet official Keith Todd said.

Wright said he was unsure if a bend in the road near the crash scene caused the bus to go off the shoulder. Some passengers had to be extricated from the bus with emergency mechanical cutting tools. Four of the passengers on the bus were adults and the rest were students, Wright said.

Police were diverting traffic several miles from the scene on US 60. State police were planning to do an accident reconstruction before reopening the road to traffic Friday night.

The bus was on its way to Smithland for an evening softball game, and overturned about three miles from the city near the Illinois border. The Union County team was scheduled to play Livingston Central High School at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, according to its schedule on the school’s website. The team’s roster lists 15 players and five coaches.

Injured people from the scene were being taken to two Paducah hospitals and Livingston County Hospital, Wright said.

Emergency responders from three surrounding counties were called to the scene.

The crash happened to occur just a few days before the 25th anniversary of one of the deadliest school bus crashes in U.S. history, which happened near Carrolton, Ky., on May 14, 1988. Twenty-seven people, including many children, died in that fiery crash after a bus was struck by a drunk driver on Interstate 71.

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