FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A school bus failed to yield to railroad crossing and stop signs and collided with an empty freight train Monday in North Dakota, killing the bus driver and a 17-year-old student and injuring 12 other people, the Highway Patrol said.
The accident happened at 3:39 p.m. Monday on a gravel road about 5 miles east of Larimore in the northeastern part of the state, about 100 miles north of Fargo. The bus was from the Larimore Public School District, authorities said.
Roger Abbe, superintendent of schools for the district, declined to comment when he was contacted at the high school Monday evening.
"All media comments are coming from the Highway Patrol and that is as much as I can say," Abbe said.
Highway Patrol Lt. Troy Hischer said the bus was heading north on a county road when it was struck by a westbound BNSF freight train. He said the train struck the bus on the passenger side, near the doors. The 62-year-old bus driver and a 17-year-old student were ejected from the vehicle and killed.
The ages of the students on the bus ranged from 5 to 17, Hischer said. Some of the injured suffered broken bones; three were in "very serious condition," he said.
Hischer described the scene as chaotic.
"It's high stress on many people from the school and on all of the first responders," Hischer said in a telephone interview. "We'll work on that as the night goes."
Hischer said it was a typical rural railroad crossing, with no crossing arms.
"The train has the right of way," he said.
Hischer said the weather was clear at the time.
Officials with Altru Health System in Grand Forks said they had received 10 patients, six of whom were admitted and three of whom were transferred. One patient was released.
Larimore has an enrollment of 201 students in grades 7-12, according to the North Dakota High School Activities Association.
BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth said the train involved was not carrying any cargo at the time. She said there were two BNSF crew members on the train, and neither was injured.
McBeth said BNSF has sent investigators to the scene.
U.S. Sen. John Hoeven from North Dakota said in a statement that "our thoughts and prayers" go out to the family members of those who were killed and injured.
"We pray for the speedy recovery of all who were injured, and that everyone involved finds solace in the love of their families and friends," Hoeven said.