Fiery Illinois highway collision kills three children and two adults

By Thomson Reuters Mar 11, 2024 | 6:59 PM

(Reuters) – Three children and two adults were killed in western Illinois on Monday in a fiery, head-on collision between a school bus and a tractor-trailer that was hauling a load of sand, authorities said.

The crash occurred around 11:30 a.m. when the bus, for unknown reasons, crossed into oncoming lanes on state Route 24 in front of the truck, which was headed in the opposite direction, a state police spokesperson told a news briefing.

The two vehicles became engulfed in flames on impact, she said. News images from the scene showed the charred, burned-out wreckage of the bus.

All three children, who were the only passengers aboard the bus, perished in the crash, along with the drivers of both vehicles. All were pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

ABC News, citing the Schuyler County coroner, reported the three children were preschoolers. The Schuyler-Industry school district said in a Facebook post that classes would be canceled on Tuesday and Wednesday out of respect for grieving families.

The wreck occurred near the town of Rushville, located in rural west-central Illinois, about 60 miles (96.5 km) northwest of Springfield, the state capital.

“There’s not really words at this time that can be said to anybody,” Sheriff Bill Redshaw told reporters at a local fire station. “Schuyler County is a small county, a small community. Rushville, Illinois, it’s a close-knit family.”

The cause of the crash, including questions about whether alcohol or drugs were a factor, remained under investigation, police said.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Sandra Maler)