A school bus carrying a dozen elementary school students collided with a truck Thursday morning in Kuna, located 30 minutes from Boise, resulting in the death of one student passenger and injuries of four others.
Canyon County Coroner Vicki DeGeus-Morris identified the victim as 11-year-old Daniel Robert Cook and stated that the boy died of blunt force trauma. The students, described as sixth graders or younger, were en route to Crimson Point Elementary School.
The accident occurred at the intersection of Deer Flat and Happy Valley on a two-lane country road. In an online letter to parents, Kuna School District stated that four students and a bus driver were hurt in the accident, and Cook passed away at the scene. District officials did not release the names of the four injured children to protect the privacy of their families.
They said the Idaho State Police is in the process of investigating the accident, so they don't have any more facts at this time. They did refer to the other vehicle as a “semi-truck,” whereas local news outlets reported it was a dump truck.
Authorities said the truck was heading north when the driver approached the four-way intersection with no stop sign for direction. The bus was traveling east on the intersecting road, which was controlled by a stop sign.
State Police Sgt. John Burke echoed that it was too early to determine the cause of the crash, adding that a final assessment could take weeks. Officers did acceleration tests at the intersection with a similar bus Thursday afternoon, trying to recreate what happened in the moments before impact.
A routine inspection of the bus found no maintenance issues, but one of the truck uncovered multiple equipment violations. Cpl. Timothy Davidson said it's unclear whether those deficiencies played a role in the collision.
Joshua Schlaich, a spokesman for St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, confirmed two of the injured children were transported to the St. Alphonsus hospital in Boise and two injured children and an adult were taken to the St. Alphonsus hospital in Nampa. He said he could not release the conditions of any of the injured parties. Paramedics at the scene said the female bus driver did not suffer any physical injury but was taken to the hospital for emotional distress.
School officials said they've had a tremendous outpouring of support from district counselors, social workers and administrators, from the Ada County Sheriff’s Office and from local school districts.
“My heart goes out to the many students, families and staff that have been impacted by this accident … All of our schools have implemented a plan for responding to this sad event and have focused on helping our students maintain regular learning and everyday activities,” read the letter. “All of our buses will have student services personnel riding along with students today so that if students are worried or have questions, they will have an adult they can talk to on their ride home.”
A counselor from Boise Counseling created this resource for families and schools on how to talk with children about the tragedy.
“Children may also be worried about riding the bus home after school today. Please reassure them that riding the bus will be okay,” the letter concluded. “School buses are the safest mode of transportation. We plan to have counselors and support staff on all our buses to help students who may be worried or concerned.”