At least three people are dead — including one student — after a school bus carrying a middle school softball team collided “head on” with an SUV allegedly driven by a drunk driver in Oklahoma, according to a statement released by school officials.
The accident happened late Friday near Bowlegs, Oklahoma, at U.S. 377 in Seminole County, about an hour southeast of Oklahoma City, as the bus, carrying six girls and their coach from Konawa Junior High School, crossed the Little River bridge.
“…they were hit head on by a drunk driver,” said the school’s Superintendent Cory Ellis in a statement released on Saturday.
A male driver and female passenger in the SUV were pronounced dead on the scene, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. One child died on the bus.
The names and ages of all the softball players, including the girl who died, have not been released, according to the state highway patrol.
School is expected to be closed on Monday and extra-curricular activities will be suspended for the week, said Ellis in the statement.
“It is absolutely devastating for our community and especially the family,” Konawa High School principal Karis Reavis said. “They had played Okemah [a town one hour northeast of Konowa] and were returning to Konowa.”
A prayer vigil will be begin at 6 p.m. on Sunday in the Performing Arts Center and two local banks, Sooner State Bank and Bancfirst, will be opening accounts to receive donations beginning Monday, March 11, the superintendent announced.
Konawa is 20 minutes south of Bowlegs, where the accident took place.
Six other people were injured in the crash, all on the bus, according to authorities. Among those injured was bus driver Joseph Scoggins, 30, who was treated for head, arm and leg injuries and released.
Five female students were also treated for minor injuries and released.
“We know that students and staff will react in different ways to emergencies of this nature, so it will be important to have support available to assist both staff and students in need,” said Ellis in the statement. “Counselors will be available in the school setting to assist students as they express their feelings related to last night’s event.”
The bus was traveling southbound at just after 7:15 p.m. when the SUV had pulled into the southbound lane to pass another car and the two vehicles slammed into each other head on, according to a preliminary investigation by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol
The Seminole Police Department shared on Facebook at about 9:20 p.m. local time that the highway was closed due to the fatal accident: “You WILL NOT be able to get through in either direction, or get close to the collision. Please pray for the families of this tragic situation.”