FULTON COUNTY — Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has issued a statement in regards to the three deaths of Tippecanoe Valley students after this morning’s school bus accident.
“Words cannot express the depth of sorrow Janet and I feel, which only pales in comparison to what family, friends, teachers, classmates and community are feeling right now. Today, and for many more to come, we mourn their loss. I ask Hoosiers around the state to join us by sending your deepest prayers for the strength needed to endure such a time.”
The three children who were killed were all related, according to the Indiana State Police. They are twin six-year-old boys and a nine-year-old girl. The injured child is not related.
“Today, at approximately 7:15 a.m., there was a 911 call reporting a crash involving students from the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation,” said Sgt. Tony Slocum with the Indiana State Police.
“When investigators arrived on the scene, they found three deceased children, two boys age six and a nine-year-old girl. They had been struck by a southbound 2017 Toyota Tacoma, which was driven by a 24-year-old female. There was also a fourth child, an 11-year-old boy who was struck. He was transported to a Fort Wayne hospital via medical helicopter. Right now, he’s in critical condition. He has multiple broken bones but my last report is that he is conscious, so that’s a good thing.”
Slocum told the media gathered at the scene that the school bus driver had followed all necessary protocol.
“The investigation has shown that a school bus from the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation was traveling northbound and stopped, put the stop arm out and had all the emergency lighting that is on the bus activated. The children then started to cross into the roadway when they were struck. There were other children getting on the bus, but only the four were struck.”
The investigation is still ongoing, so there is no information as to whether excessive speed or any other factor played a role in the crash.
However, Rick Roberts, 58, who lives several houses down from where the accident occurred, said speeding vehicles are common on that stretch of roadway. “We’re always complaining about it,” he said, pointing to skid marks where another near accident occurred recently.
Slocum said the scene was horrific, even for seasoned law enforcement officers.
“Obviously, it’s a very delicate situation when you’re dealing with elementary-aged children,” he said. “It’s a very, very sad situation. This is a very hard scene. I haven’t seen troopers cry in a long time, but when the father had to come out and identify his children, it was excruciating.”
Slocum provided several press conferences to media near the scene. At his second meeting, he looked at his notebook and noticed a grim coincidence.
“What’s ironic about this is that these are my notes that I use when I’m on the radio as the public information officer,” he said. “And they’re my notes talking about school bus safety.”
Ink Free News is waiting on an official release before identifying any of the children or the driver in this incident.