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Update: Students injured in bus crash
bus crash
Local agencies respond to a collision between a van and a school bus around 4 p.m. May 28. Eleven students on the Route 2 public school bus sustained minor injuries. - photo by Marissa Weiher

MONROE — Eleven students on a Route 2 public school bus sustained minor injuries in a traffic crash Tuesday afternoon at 8th Street and Wisconsin 69, according to the Monroe Police Department.

One student, a 5-year-old boy, was transported by ambulance to Monroe Clinic for treatment of his injuries. The remaining 10 injured students were treated at the scene or taken to Monroe Clinic on a replacement bus.

In the hours after the accident, Chief of Police Fred Kelley initially reported three students were injured. He released updated information on the crash the next day.

The injured students ranged in age from 5 to 15, according to Kelley. All 26 students on the bus at the time of the accident were checked at the scene.

The students not taken to Monroe Clinic were picked up by parents or sent home on a replacement bus, according to Rick Waski, administrator for the School District of Monroe, in an email sent Wednesday morning to all district parents.

Waski stressed that the school bus driver was not at fault in the four-vehicle crash.

The accident was reported to police at 3:52 p.m. Tuesday. A southbound van on Wis. 69 turned left onto 8th Street in front of the northbound school bus, a Lamers Bus Lines Inc. vehicle contracted by the school district.

The bus hit the van, and the impact of the collision “spun” the van into two other vehicles waiting at the light, said Kelley.

In addition to the students injured, the van driver, Monico Garcia-Mendez, 55, Monroe, also sustained minor injuries. He declined EMS transport. He was the sole occupant of the van.

Garcia-Mendez was cited for failure to yield right-of-way to oncoming traffic and for driving without a valid license.

The Lamers bus driver, Kerry A. Holland, 56, Gratiot, was uninjured, as were the drivers of the other two vehicles involved in the accident, 61-year-old Craig A. Fuchs and Dennis L. Meier, 69, both of Monroe. Fuchs and Meier were the sole occupants in their vehicles.

The bus and van sustained severe damage. The Fuchs and Meier vehicles had minor damage.

Joe Monroe, director of pupil services for the school district, sent a voicemail message to all parents in the district at 4:33 p.m., about 40 minutes after the accident happened.

“I’m calling to inform you that one of our school buses was involved in a traffic accident today. This afternoon, Route 2 was delivering students home when it was involved in a traffic accident,” he said in the message. He said parents of the injured students had already been contacted and all other students were safe.

The scene of the traffic crash remained closed for about an hour, with the Monroe Street Department putting up barricades for safety. The Monroe Fire Department assisted Green County EMS with first aid at the scene.

In a post to the Monroe Fire Department Facebook page, Chief Dan Smits acknowledged that news of the accident traveled fast on social media and “some parents wish that they found out quicker as to whether their child was involved and possibly hurt” in the accident.

“We know it can be difficult to wait for that information,” he wrote.

But, he continued, the first responsibility of first responders is “scene and patient safety.” Tuesday’s accident was a complex situation at a busy intersection involving four vehicles and dozens of people, many of whom were children.

“There was a lot to quickly assess. Depending on the ages of the children there is a process that EMS does to determine the next step. This also takes some time, unless the injuries are obvious. In this case, most children were upset and not hurt,” he wrote.

He praised school district representatives for being “very cooperative and quick to get on scene” and parents who showed up at the scene for being “extremely cooperative.”

“That really helps us to get things done quicker. We hope that all involved heal quickly from the accident,” he wrote.

On Thursday morning, Smits said he created the Facebook post “to make sure the parents understood that things were done very, very professionally.” He said he’d already had followup meetings about the incident with the school district and police chief on Wednesday.