Education

What if tragedy struck Belleville West instead of Normal West? Here’s how they’d respond.

Semi collides with bus carrying student-athletes in Illinois

A semitrailer heading the wrong way on an interstate collided head-on with a school bus carrying members of an Illinois high school girls' basketball team, killing the truck driver and an adult on the bus, authorities said Thursday.
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A semitrailer heading the wrong way on an interstate collided head-on with a school bus carrying members of an Illinois high school girls' basketball team, killing the truck driver and an adult on the bus, authorities said Thursday.

After a school bus carrying a high school girls’ basketball team was hit head-on by a semitrailer in northern Illinois, administrators in the metro-east were asking themselves what they would have done in an emergency situation like that.

In Belleville District 201, Superintendent Jeff Dosier said administrators talked Thursday morning specifically about how the district should respond if the people in charge of students’ safety are the ones who get hurt.

“We’re going to take this horrible tragedy and talk about it and try and learn from it,” Dosier said.

All of the adults on the Normal West High School bus were seriously injured Wednesday night when it collided with a truck heading the wrong way on Interstate 74.

Illinois State Police Trooper Tracy Lillard told reporters late Wednesday that a volunteer on the bus, 72-year-old Charles Crabtree, died. She said the school bus driver and coach were airlifted from the scene.

The eight students who were on the bus were taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries, according to Lillard.

“In that case, we would have members of our administrative team travel to the area,” Dosier said. The goal is to have an adult with the students to gather information for parents who aren’t there yet.

Dosier said part of the Belleville high school district’s procedure for any travel, including sporting events, competitions and field trips, is to ask parents to provide contact information and sign permission slips. They might also have to sign a medical release form, so their child could receive treatment in an emergency situation.

“It makes me think, we do all these things and sometimes it can be a pain to ask parents to fill these out, but this just reinforces why it’s so important to have these in place,” Dosier said.

He said the district, which includes Belleville East and West high schools, would use all forms of communication available in an emergency, with phone calls, text messages and social media among the options.

Dosier said more formal discussions with the administrative team were planned for Thursday to talk about the procedures that are in place now and to ask if there are areas they could improve.

Lexi Cortes covers the issues and events in education that matter to metro-east students, parents and taxpayers. She won a first-place award from the Illinois Press Association in 2018 for her work on a series of stories about proposals to increase sales tax rates, focusing on how those increases could affect schools and residents.


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