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Tragedy on Boone Road: Two Carroll County children die in bus accident

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5 Head Start students remain hospitalized, 1 critical

By Jeff Moore and Kristin Beck

A school bus accident on Boone Road in Carroll County claimed the lives of two Carroll County Head Start students Monday, Oct. 29, when the bus they were riding in veered off the road to the left, overturned and hit a tree.

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Kentucky State Police Post 5 spokesman Trooper Brad Arterburn said there were nine Head Start students on the bus at the time of the wreck.

The two children killed in the accident have been identified as Ryder Deitz and Caroline Tuttle, both 3 years old and both of Carrollton, according to a KSP news release Tuesday afternoon.

Three other children injured were flown from the scene by helicopter to Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville; a fourth was flown to the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington later Monday night.

Three students were taken by ambulance to Carroll County Memorial Hospital. Initially, the children were to be released. Instead, the medical director at CCMH determined it would be best to send the children on to Kosair to ensure local doctors had not missed anything medical, due to the fact that the roof of the bus collapsed during the accident, said Cis Gruebbel, director of nursing at Kosair Children’s Hospital.

“They did an absolutely amazing job,” at CCMH, Gruebbel said, and she extended her praise to Carroll County’s chief nursing officer Lisa Pennick for the care provided to the children.

All six children transported to Kosair were ages 3 and 4.
Two of the three children transported by ambulance were examined and discharged, while the third child was admitted and on the medical surgical floor of the hospital and could be released by Wednesday, Gruebell said.

The three children brought to Kosair by helicopter were in the Intensive Care Unit as of 11 a.m. Tuesday. All six were listed in stable condition by Kosair officials.

Gruebell said the injuries the children sustained were consistent to the type of accidentthey were involved in, including leg fractures, skull fractures and other broken bones.

She said one child in ICU was expected to be moved to the medical-surgical floor Wednesday. The two children with skull fractures would remain in ICU for 72 hours so medical personnel could watch for swelling in the brain, which she said is common in head-trauma cases.

One child has injuries in the abdominal and chest area. She said this could have resulted from either the roof of the bus collapsing onto the child or from the seat belts used on the bus.

Family members of the children are staying with them at the hospital.

She said all the children at Kosair have a good prognosis. “The kiddos are going to recover well in the next few days,” she said.

The child flown to the University of Kentucky Medical Center was listed in serious condition as of noon Tuesday, according to a KSP news release.

Arterburn said an adult bus assistant also was injured and flown to UK  Medical Center for treatment Monday night. She, also, was listed in serious condition as of Tuesday afternoon.

The accident was reported to Carroll County dispatch at 4:32 p.m. at 3258 Boone Road. Police, fire and rescue units from multiple agencies responded to the scene, and five medical-transport helicopters from Air Methods and Stat Flight responded to remove the injured from the scene.

The two children were pronounced dead at the scene by Carroll County Coroner David Wilhoite.

“It’s the worst thing you can imagine for anybody that shows up – EMS, fire department, us, it doesn’t matter,” Arterburn said at the news conference Monday night. “Anytime this happens to children, that’s the worst part of our job.”

The Head Start bus is equipped with seat belts, and it appears that they were in use by all occupants at the time of the crash, according to KSP.

“Some were trapped and had to be pulled out,” he said. Arterburn confirmed that the Jaws of Life had to be used at the scene to extract the passengers from the bus.

Arterburn said the bus driver, who has been identified by multiple sources as Laura Reed, was coherent and cooperative at the scene and taken by state police to CCMH for chemical testing. This is standard in this type of accident, he said. She was not injured and was released from the hospital.

Parents and extended family members of the bus accident victims were gathered in the Carroll County Memorial Hospital cafeteria Monday night until they could receive information regarding where their children were being treated, CCMH Chief Executive Officer Kanute Rarey said in a statement.

The hospital provided food and beverages. School counselors and local clergy also were available to provide support as needed.

“Chief nursing officer Lisa Penick said that the hospital’s medical staff, physicians, nurses and other support staff responded to a call-back to the hospital and were ready to care for each victim as they were brought to the hospital, and followed the emergency response procedures established at the hospital for all this type of emergency,” Rarey said in the statement.

Kentucky State Police began reconstructing the scene of the accident Monday night, Arterburn said. As of Tuesday afternoon, one team is examining the bus to look for any mechanical issues or other factors that could have contributed to the incident, according to state police. Another reconstructionist team is at the accident site finishing up the investigation at the scene. Arterburn said officials do not yet know the cause.

Early reports indicated that a second vehicle was involved; however, he was unable to confirm that.

Arterburn said Monday night that accident reconstructionist Trooper Dusty Corbin had not yet talked with the bus driver and that he would be doing that as part of his investigation.

Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson issued an executive order Tuesday afternoon that all flags in Carroll County fly at half-staff through 8 a.m. Monday, Nov. 5, in remembrance of the lives lost in the bus accident and in honor of those who survive, according to the order.

“I also urge everyone in our community to keep these families in your thoughts and prayers throughout the coming days and weeks as we all struggle to deal with this tragedy,” Tomlinson  said.

The following agencies responded to the scene: Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Carrollton Police Department, Carroll County EMS, Carroll County Rescue, Ghent Fire Protection District, Gallatin County EMS, Henry County EMS, Carroll County Coroner, Henry County Coroner.