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18 students, driver injured in Kentucky school bus crash, officials say

By Kiely Westhoff and Theresa Waldrop, CNN

All 18 students and a driver have “varying degrees of injuries” after their bus crashed in eastern Kentucky early Monday, a school official said.

No fatalities have been reported, Magoffin County School District Superintendent Chris Meadows said in a statement.

The students range from elementary to high school, according to the Kentucky Department of Education.

A county spokesman said earlier that the driver and 21 students were hospitalized, some with critical injuries. The error came about because the preliminary list of injured included duplicate names, Meadows said.

The injured were taken by helicopter or ambulance to hospitals, Meadows said.

The bus was the only vehicle in the crash, said Kentucky State Police spokesman Paul Blanton. The driver appeared unable to answer questions, he said.

The bus was east of Salyersville, the county seat, when it “left the roadway,” according to a spokesperson for the state education department.

The initial investigation indicates that it then went over an embankment, a Kentucky State Police spokesperson said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

The bus, which did not have seat belts, looked like it had rolled over and landed on its side, according to Meadows.

First responders needed to use rescue equipment, including ropes and Stokes baskets, to pull the children up the hill, said Magoffin County Fire Chief Paul Howard.

A few of the students had already climbed up the hill when he arrived, Howard said.

The stretch of road where the crash occurred is “an area that has been slated for the possibility of putting up a guardrail,” but water and sewer infrastructure under the road has complicated the process, Magoffin County Executive Judge Matt Wireman said.

Asked if they would review seat belt requirements for students on district school buses, Meadows said they would need to review state guidelines but, “when it comes to student safety, everything’s on the table.”

Multiple surrounding counties sent people to help the lone dispatcher who was on duty when a student called 911 to report the crash, Wireman said.

“We had the all-call that went out today and surrounding counties answered that call, and they came to help our children and I just can’t thank them enough,” he said.

Officials at the news conference did not have any updates on the medical conditions of the injured.

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