Authorities are still trying to figure out what caused a school bus filled with nearly 50 children to crash into a bridge Monday morning in Indianapolis.
The collision killed the driver and a five-year-old girl, while injuring several passengers – two critically.
The bus was taking children ages 5 to 16 to Lighthouse Charter School when it collided with the support pillars of a train bridge around 7:40 a.m. The first responders were passersby who saw smoke billowing from the wreckage.
“By the time I got there, the bus was already wrecked,” Mitch Gibbony told the Indianapolis Star. “I stopped and helped the kids get outside. There were a lot of kids on that bus.”
WISH-TV reported that some witnesses helped rescue children from the wreckage before medics arrived. Daniel Maple, who was driving behind the bus during the accident, was the first one inside.
“I opened up the emergency door and started getting kids out,” Maple told WISH-TV. “There was one little boy trapped in the front who suffered maybe a broken leg. I moved the seat to free up his leg as best I could, then I handed him over the window.”
It was dark and rainy at the time, making it even more difficult to rescue some of the children. The fire department spent 45 minutes pulling out four students who were stuck inside in the bus, including one child who was trapped under the front wheel.
Indianapolis Fire Department Capt. Rita Burris said witnesses could not explain why the bus ran into the bridge. Roads were wet at the time, but Burris would not speculate on the cause of the accident.
Back at Lighthouse Charter School, students were released early, including some who were on the bus but unharmed from the accident.
Lighthouse student Dimitri Smith, 15, told the Indianapolis Star that he missed the bus that morning but knew the bus driver, who he called a “really cool guy.”
“He wanted all of us to be safe, and he was a good bus driver,” Smith said.