LITCHFIELD, Illinois (KMOV)—Illinois State Police ticketed a school bus driver with failure to avoid an accident after he crashed into the back of a tractor trailer on I-55 in Litchfield, Illinois. The accident left 11 students injured Monday afternoon.
Police say Henry Jaeger, 66, was at fault when he failed to notice that a tractor-trailer driving in front of him reduced speed due to construction zone traffic in the southbound lanes of I-55.
Jaeger did not slow down in enough time, causing the bus to strike the left rear end of the trailer. The tractor-trailer was being driven by Gerald Rees, 54.
Jaeger received a Failure to Reduce Speed to Avoid an Accident ticket.
Jaeger is a driver for the First Student Bus Company. Drivers at this company are subjected to an annual reveiw of their driving records. Records show Jaeger has had a clean driving record. News 4 checked Madison County records and only found one citation for Jeager, which was issued nearly 17 years ago. In 1995, he plead guilty to a child restraint violation in Highland, Illinois.
Eleven people, including Jaeger, were injured in the accident.
A 12-year-old girl was transported to Cardinal Glennon with a broken leg. Hospital officials tell News 4 Jessica Davis is in fair condition and will stay overnight.
Should seat belts be required on school buses? Share your thoughts.
"Having seen the photographs and the video myself of the scene, because I was looking to see what was coming in, and what we were going to be expecting, considering the amount of damage (Jessica) is lucky she wasn't more badly injured," Dr. Rachel Charney said.
In addition, two more children were airlifted to St. Louis Children’s Hospital from Litchfield for further evaluation. Three other children were evaluated in Litchfield and were expected to be released Monday night. Two others were discharged earlier on Monday.
Henry Jaeger and another student were taken to a hospital in Springfield, Illinois. Their conditions are unknown, but are believed to be minor. Another student was taken to a hospital in Staunton with minor injuries.
Illinois State Police believe the accident reconstruction will take a couple weeks. Investigators have to inspect the bus and truck to determine the speed of both vehicles at the time of impact.
Statement from First Student:
“At 4:15 p.m. on May 14, an experienced school bus driver struck the back of a semi truck on I-55 in Carlinville. There were 33 students on board (5th and 6th grade) at the time of the accident. The driver and 11 students were taken to the hospital as a precaution with non life-threatening injuries. The driver and eight students were treated and released, and three students remain in the hospital for observation.
The driver is suspended pending the outcome of an internal and police investigation. This is typical in the event of an accident. He has been with First Student since 2009 and has years of driving experience prior to joining our team.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the students as they continue their recovery.”
In other news: