A Wednesday evening crash involving a semi truck and trailer and a Blue Hill Community School District bus has claimed four lives.
The crash occurred just before 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 5, at the intersection of county road “R” and 1800 Road in Webster County south of the community of Blue Hill. A Blue Hill District school bus was eastbound on county road “R” when it collided with a semi truck and trailer hauling hay bales. The semi was northbound on 1800 Road. The vehicles came to rest in the ditch/field in the northeast corner of the intersection where both were engulfed in flames.
Travis Witte, 21, Blue Hill, the driver of the semi, Maria Wentworth, 59, Red Cloud, the driver of the school bus and two students riding the bus, Dustin Tesdahl, 18, Blue Hill and Caroline Thallman, 10, Blue Hill were killed in the crash. All four died at the scene of the accident.
Five other students on the bus ranging in age from 6-10 were transported to area hospitals. Four of the students were taken to Mary Lanning Hospital in Hastings. A 7- year old male student was treated and released. A 10-year old male student and an 8-year old female student were admitted. A 7-year old female student was flown by medical helicopter to Children’s Hospital in Omaha. A 6-year old female was treated and released from Brodstone Memorial Hospital in Superior.
“Our first concern is for the families of those affected by Wednesday’s events, “said Sara Bockstadter, Webster County Attorney. “Our hearts go out to everyone who has been touched by this tragedy. We ask for your consideration as our communities begin to process what has happened and work toward healing.”
The Nebraska State Patrol is assisting the Webster County Sheriff’s Office and the Webster County Attorney with the accident investigation. The Blue Hill, Hastings, Lawrence and Red Cloud Fire and Rescue Squads, and the Hastings and Superior Police Departments also assisted.
The Blue Hill Community School District has set up a crisis center at the school in Blue Hill, 606 South Sycamore Street, to assist students and their families.