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Beaver County School Mourns 14-Year-Old Student, Bus Driver After I-79 Crash

By: KDKA's Amy Wadas and Chris Hoffman

MIDLAND, Pa. (KDKA) - A Beaver County school is mourning a 14-year-old student and a "dedicated" driver after a school bus and tractor-trailer crashed on I-79, injuring several others.

The Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School posted a statement on its website, saying, "Words cannot express the true gravity of this tragic event."

The school says it's open Wednesday and grief counselors and support staff are there to help students.

The crash happened on I-79 northbound in Muddy Creek Township, Butler County.

i-79 muddy creek township school bus crash butler county
(Photo: NewsChopper 2)

A spokesperson for UPMC says six students were treated at Children's for non-life-threatening injuries and have all been released.

Uninjured bus passengers were reunited with their families.

KDKA's Amy Wadas spoke to the owner of R.J. Rhodes Transit, the company transporting the students, over the phone Wednesday. He said losing one of his own as well as a student is hard to bear. He said it was a tough day at the office so he brought in grief counselors to help his employees cope.

The owner of Rhodes also told KDKA his company has been around for nearly 90 years and the driver of the bus had driven for the company for about five to six years. He stresses the buses are checked often by garage inspectors.

i-79 muddy creek township school bus crash butler county
(Photo: NewsChopper 2)

A look into the background of the company and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows they've only had a few minor incidents.

"It's so sad. So sad to me. It's hard enough that there is a shortage for bus drivers, and then such a young bus driver," parent Sharri Nicholson said while waiting for her child.

Parents said it's been a tough 24 hours for families at the school.

"We talked about the impact that it has on the other children who were not injured and had to witness it and the ripple effect of it," Nicholson said.

The tractor-trailer driver wasn't injured.

The northbound lane was closed for about 12 hours, finally reopening around 5 a.m. Wednesday.

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