BENTON COUNTY • The driver of a Benton County school bus was killed and eight students were injured after a Tuesday morning wreck.
The driver was identified as Chester Cole. Benton County School Superintendent Steve Bostick said that Cole, 63, was a trusted driver who had driven the bus for about five years.
The accident occurred in the westbound lanes of U.S. 72 near Whippoorwill Road. Details are unclear on what caused the accident, but the bus ran off the road and overturned during the crash. No other vehicles were involved.
"It looked like the driver veered off the road and possibly had a heart attack," said Bostick.
Medical helicopters and four or five ambulances were called to the scene to help the injured, according to Benton County Coroner Larry Hobson.
Trauma Medical Director at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, Dr. Regan Williams, said the hospital has treated eight children. Four children were airlifted, two were carried by ambulance and two were carried in private vehicles to the hospital. Williams said that four of the children were in serious condition but not critical and would be admitted to the hospital. The other four children sustained minor or no injuries and would likely go home today.
The bus was en route to Ashland schools at the time of the accident. The children ranged in age from 7-13, according to Bostick.
"We are so sad that this has happened," said Bostick. "We do our best to provide safety for our children and drivers. My heart goes out the families of the driver and children."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.