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Okla. School Bus Crash Kills One

August 25, 1999

IDABEL, Okla. (AP) _ A bus carrying 24 children to school collided with a logging truck Wednesday, leaving a 13-year-old boy dead and 19 others injured in the rural logging country of Oklahoma.

The bus pulled into the path of the truck west of Idabel _ in far southeast Oklahoma _ during its morning pickups, said state Highway Patrol Lt. Stewart Meyer. The students ranged in age from 5 to 14.

The bus headed to the Forest Grove School had almost made it across the highway when it was struck. It had pulled onto the road from a stop sign, Meyer said.

``He tried to miss him and hit the bus in the back end. If he hadn’t tried to miss him, ain’t no telling how many would’ve been killed,″ said James Westbrook, the brother of truck driver Gary Westbrook.

Westbrook wasn’t seriously injured. School Superintendent Wes Watson, who was driving the bus, was also injured.

Killed was Johnny Valdez. None of the injuries was considered life threatening.

Watson, who usually drives the morning route, had completed half to three-quarters of his student pickups, Davis said.

After the crash, the bus lay on its side, its back right side crushed in and the rear suspension ripped away from the frame. A few streaks of blood were visible inside. The logging truck, with its load intact, sat in the middle of the road, its front end damaged and a portion of a fender a few yards away.

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