Three children and two adults killed in Illinois school bus crash

Three children and two adults killed in Illinois school bus crash (AP)
Three children and two adults killed in Illinois school bus crash (AP)

Five people, including three young children, have been killed in western Illinois after a school bus collided with another vehicle, authorities have said.

The incident occurred on a highway near Rushville on Monday morning around 11.30am local time. According to Illinois State police, the bus crossed the center line on US Route 24 into the westbound lanes “for an unknown reason” and into the path of a semitruck carrying sand.

Illinois State Police Troop 6 Captain Jody Huffman told a news conference that both vehicles caught on fire in the crash.

All four people aboard the bus from Schuyler-Industry Schools — three children and the driver — as well as the driver of the semitruck were killed.

According to ABC News, the children who died in the accident were preschoolers, per the Schuyler County Coroner Terry Millslagle. All of the families of the victims have been contacted.

“There’s not really words at this time that can be said,” Schuyler County Sheriff Bill Redshaw told reporters. “When you have a loss of life like this, it’s devastating.” He said the tragedy hit the small, close-knit community particularly hard.

Schuyler-Industry Schools canceled classes Tuesday and Wednesday because of the crash.

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce our school community has lost both staff and students in the traffic incident involving one of our school buses this morning,” the school district said in a statement. “Out of respect for everyone involved, no names or further information will be released at this time.”

The cause of the crash remained under investigation Monday afternoon. Schuyler County Coroner Terry Millslagle said the victims’ bodies were being transported to Springfield for autopsies.

The coroner later confirmed the identities of the victims. The two adults were named as David Coufal, 72 and Angela Spiker, 57. The three children were identified as Maria Miller, 5, Andrew Miller, 3 and Noah Driscoll, 3, all from Rushville.

Rushville is a Schuyler County community of about 3,000 roughly 60 miles west of Springfield, Illinois.

Illinois governor JB Pritzker expressed his condolences to all those affected by the crash in a post on X.

“My thoughts are with the entire Schuyler-Industry community as we come together to mourn the tragic loss of life following a trarfic accident on US-24,” he wrote.

“I am in contact with local officials and Illinois State Police are on the ground providing support to first responders and local emergency management. May the memory of those lost today be a blessing.”

Officials with the city of Rushville later asked locals to place their flags at half staff out of respect for those involved the accident. Residents that do not own a flag were encouraged to leave their porch lights on to show support.

“Please keep all the families and first responders in your thoughts & prayers,” city officials said in the post on Facebook.