Three people, including one Konawa student athlete, were killed in a two-vehicle head-on collision involving a Konawa Schools activity bus Friday evening in Seminole County.
That crash occurred just after 7 p.m. on US 377, approximately 1 mile south of Bowlegs in Seminole County.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says an unknown year SUV and a school bus collided head-on, resulting in a fiery crash. Both occupants of the SUV died at the scene and are listed on the trooper's report as names withheld pending identification from the state medical examiner, with their ages also unknown.
There were juvenile female passengers on that bus, a Konawa Schools activities bus with the junior high girls softball team on board. The patrol reports there were six students on board.
One student athlete, name and age withheld, died at the scene from massive injuries, the OHP reported, while five other students went to the hospital in Seminole, where they were treated for unspecified injuries and then released. No names of the juveniles have been released.
The Blue Bird Bus, driven by Joseph Scoggins, 30, Konawa, was southbound on US 377, the patrol said. He was transported by Mercy EMS to Mercy Hospital in Ada with head, arm and leg injuries, the OHP said. He was treated and released.
Cause of the crash remains under investigation, but the patrol's report shows the SUV, going northbound, had passed another northbound vehicle and stayed in the southbound lane. As a result, the driver of the southbound bus took evasive action and swerved into the northbound lane to avoid a collision, but the SUV swerved back into the northbound lane and hit the bus head-on, the OHP said, pinning both driver and passenger of the SUV before both vehicles caught fire.
The condition of the driver of the SUV at the time of the accident is listed as unknown and remains under investigation by the patrol, the trooper's report shows.
Konawa FFA, through its Facebook page, reported Friday night it was the junior high softball team involved in the collision and asked for prayers.
"Tragic update: 3 people have died in this accident. Our community, this team, this coach, the families, the students, the teachers; all will need all of your love, prayers, & support for the many days to come. We are a small town. We are close knit. This is a time for us to come together & lean on each other in our time of grief," the Konawa FFA post shows.
On Saturday, Mr. Ellis from Konawa Schools posted a heartfelt message on the district's Facebook page as the Konawa community grieves.
In his post, he said it was with a heavy heart and immeasurable sorrow that he was sharing that the team was traveling home on the activity bus from their game in Okemah when the crash occurred. Ellis said while the bus was crossing the Little River bridge, the bus was allegedly hit by a drunk driver, although that information has not been confirmed by OHP.
He reported six girls and the coach were on board the bus, with the crash claiming the life of one student athlete.
"An effort is being made to provide an appropriate response to the situation. The administration is currently designing a plan to provide assistance to our students and their families. We know that students and staff will react in different ways to emergencies of this nature, so it will be important to have support available to assist both staff and students in need," Mr. Ellis said. "Counselors will be available in the school setting to assist students as they express their feelings related to last night’s event. If you feel your child is in need of special assistance or is having a great deal of difficulty coping with the loss, please do not hesitate to call."
Continuing, he said, "We know that while it’s important to deal with grief, loss, and anger reactions, we also believe it is essential to resume as normal a routine as possible regarding school activities by providing support from peers and colleagues. There will be modifications to the school week next week and we will keep you notified of school closing, start late, or activity cancellations shortly," the post reads.
"I want you all to know the flood of support, thoughts and prayers our school and community has already received through messages and phones calls from all over the state" Ellis said in the post. "I’d also like to thank the Bowlegs Volunteer Fire Department and the numerous amount of First Responders on the scene and especially those passerby’s names we will not know that initially stopped to help. We are a special community and a special family."
Watch for updates.