A 16-year-old student started grabbing children and "throwing them out the door" after their school bus skidded off a muddy road and into a creek, but he couldn't reach an 8-year-old who sank before his eyes.
The child and the driver, who rejected the teen-ager's offers of help, died Wednesday after being trapped underwater for more than an hour, authorities said. Eleven other students escaped after the accident 40 miles southeast of Kansas City."I saw the other little boy in the water, and I tried to grab for him underneath the water," said 16-year-old Bill Raley, one of 12 students on the bus. "I didn't even get to touch him. I tried. He went under and I never saw him again."
Killed were Dale R. Thomasson, 46, a teacher, counselor and school bus driver, and Loren Newkirk II, 8, both of Wellsville in rural east-central Kansas.
The two were trapped beneath the front axle of the bus until wreckers pulled it from the creek, Franklin County Deputy Sheriff Craig Davis said. Loren was freed and survived more than four hours before being pronounced dead at a hospital.
A preliminary autopsy showed Thomasson died of massive, crushing injuries, Davis said.
The bus was en route to Wellsville's school complex, about 10 miles northeast of Ottawa, when it slowed for a curve on a gravel road that was muddy from early-morning rains. The bus ran off the road after the turn, Davis said.
Raley said another student opened the back emergency exit and the two helped students jump out onto a muddy embankment as water poured in the front door.