LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - The Jan. 21 crash that injured several Hoxie school children brought support from area districts, businesses, and others willing to help.
Hoxie Superintendent Kelly Gillham said she has received phone calls from neighboring districts, businesses, co-ops, parents and others after the crash.
The multi-vehicle crash involving a Hoxie school bus, a dump truck, and several other vehicles sent 9 people to the hospital, including two drivers and 7 children.
The crash closed Highway 63 south of Walnut Ridge for several hours on Tuesday.
Arkansas State Police said in a news release that a southbound dump truck driven by 31-year-old Houston Franks hit the rear end of the bus as it began to turn off the highway onto Lawrence County Road 703.
The crash caused the bus, driven by 43-year-old Jeremy Parmer, to veer off the road and overturn in a man’s yard.
Initially, one child was airlifted to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis. Superintendent Kelly Gillham said a second child was later transported to Le Bonheur.
The students--an 8th grader and a 10th grader--suffered serious injuries, but Gillham said the injuries were not considered life-threatening.
As of Monday, Jan. 27, both students remained at Le Bonheur.
Five other children on the bus, as well as Parmer and Franks, were taken to a Jonesboro hospital with unspecified injuries. Attorney Rebecca Worsham with Mixon & Worsham PLC said five of the students and the bus driver were cleared and released from area hospitals around 11 p.m. Jan. 21.
Two of the children had to be extricated from the bus.
Worsham, who represents the school district, told Region 8 News that all individuals were awake and alert when they were transported from the accident scene.
Gillham said counseling was also available to all students at the Hoxie schools on Wednesday.
The superintendent said the help from area residents was appreciated.
“That’s what you get in a community like this, people come together to help others and that’s what I love about the Hoxie Community and Lawrence County community,” Gillham said.
Gillham said school administrators went to area hospitals Tuesday evening to check on the students that were injured in the crash.
“We wanted to make sure there was a school representative there for all of those students and parents. Nobody left until every student was gone from the other hospitals. They stayed until the very end,” Gillham said.
Also, teachers have expressed their interest in helping the children impacted by the crash.
“There were many teachers last night who reached out to their buildings’ principals wanted to know what they could do. Those were their kids and they wanted to know what they could do to help them. I love seeing that, I love that attitude. That is why we are in this business,” Gillham said.
Parents and school members have started a collection to help the families of the students injured in Tuesday’s bus crash.
They are collecting snacks and drinks, as well as personal hygiene items and monetary donations for the two families whose children are being treated at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis.
Donations, according to a Wednesday social media post, can be dropped off at either the elementary or high school office.
The donations will be delivered to the families later this week.
The bus was flipped into a nearby ditch, and the video shows heavy damage to the back of the bus.
A Hoxie school official told Region 8 News the bus involved in the crash would be known as bus 5, which makes stops in southeast Hoxie and Highway 63.
Gillham said the route has been a route used by the district for many years and that the bus driver was filling in Tuesday when the crash happened.
“That bus driver had driven that route for seven years and he, this year, was put on a different route but he was actually filling in. He was subbing on that route yesterday,” Gillham said.
The crash was located about 1.6 miles south of the Highway 91 intersection.
Arkansas State Police troopers assigned to the Highway Patrol Division, Troop B, and a reconstruction team from the HPD will lead the investigation into the crash.