School bus crashes in southern Minn.; at least 3 dead

;COTTONWOOD, Minn. (AP) – A school bus and several other vehicles crashed in southwestern Minnesota on Tuesday, leaving at least 3 people dead, including a child, and more than a dozen injured, authorities said.

Forty students at Lakeview School were on the bus when it crashed in Cottonwood, about 121 miles southwest of Minneapolis, said Deann Holland, a spokeswoman at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center.

Minnesota State Patrol Lieutenant Brian West told the Marshall Independent that at least three people have died. The newspaper reported that the first motorists on the scene were asked to take some children to the hospital.

“I parked my car and called 911, and ran to the school bus and the driver was handing kids out the door as fast as I could take them,” Karen Mahlum told the newspaper.

“They were screaming and screaming on the bus. There were so many kids,” she said.

Parents were asked to gather at Lakeview School to await word on their children.

The bus was on its regular route, carrying children from kindergarten through 12th grade. Lakeview School, with enrollment of about 585, serves the towns of Cottonwood and Wood Lake.

Of 11 victims transported to the hospital in Marshall, two were in critical condition and one had already been treated and released, Holland said. Others were being treated for back and neck injuries, lacerations, bumps and bruises, she said.

Two other victims were taken by ambulance to Granite Falls, where they were stabilized before being transported to Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D., to undergo orthopedic surgery, Granite Falls Hospital CEO George Gerlach said. One victim was 11 years old and the other 14, and neither had life-threatening injuries, Gerlach said.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty issued a statement calling it “a sad night for Minnesota.”

“It is especially heartbreaking when young lives are lost,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were killed or injured in this tragic accident.”