NSP releases statement on Blue Hill bus crash

(Red Cloud, Neb.)-  On September 5, an accident involving a Blue Hill Community School District bus and a semi-truck and trailer claimed the lives of four Webster County residents and injured five others. After a thorough investigation and accident reconstruction by the Nebraska State Patrol, with assistance of the Webster County Sheriff’s office, it has been determined that each driver appears to have shared some level of responsibility in the outcome of the crash.

“The investigation indicated that both vehicles entered the intersection at approximately the same time,” said Sara Bockstadter, Webster County Attorney. “The investigation revealed that both drivers had an unobstructed view of the roadway and the opportunity to see each other.”

The crash occurred just before 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 5, when the school bus and semi hauling hay, collided at the intersection of County Road “R” and 1800 Road, south of the community of Blue Hill. As a result of the impact, both vehicles caught fire. The fire destroyed data recording equipment in both vehicles, hampering the ability to determine the speed at which either vehicle was traveling. The driver of the semi did not have a Class A Commercial Driver’s License required to operate the vehicle he was driving.  The driver of the bus failed to statutorily yield the right of way to the semi on her right.  Both issues were identified as possible contributing factors in the crash. Drugs and alcohol were not involved in the crash.

Sara Bockstadter said, “This has been an extremely difficult time for all of us. While we continue to grieve the loss of our family members and friends, we would like to thank everyone who has reached out to our community to provide comfort and support.”

The crash claimed the lives of Travis Witte, 21, Blue Hill, Marla Wentworth, 59, Red Cloud, Dustin Tesdahl, 18, Blue Hill and Caroline Thallman, 10, Blue Hill. Five other students riding the bus were injured.  

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