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Police report: Driver in fatal bus crash was taking sweatshirt off just before impact

Police report: Driver in fatal bus crash was taking sweatshirt off just before impact

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MARSHALL COUNTY, Ind. -- The crash on US 31 that killed Owen Abbott, a student on an Eastern Pulaski School bus, happened when the driver of a truck following the bus took off his sweatshirt while driving, according to the Indiana State Police crash report.

The crash happened in the northbound lanes of US 31 in Marshall County around 9 a.m. on December 5.

The driver of a rental truck and flatbed trailer, Tylor Perry, was traveling northbound on US 31 behind a school bus when he began taking off his sweatshirt and fleece jacket, reports said.

After he got the shirt off, he looked up and realized the bus was stopped at the railroad tracks. He slammed on his brakes and attempted to swerve to the left to avoid the bus, according to the police report.

After the initial impact, the trailer forced the truck into the bus a second time, reports said.

At least three witnesses reported the truck driver did not apply his brakes until right before the collision.

In the report, the truck driver being distracted was listed as the primary cause of the crash.

14-year-old Johnathan Crissinger described the harrowing moments during the crash.

"I started bouncing off of stuff then when i got back up I heard someone scream we're all gonna die," Crissinger said. 

All of the drug and alcohol tests that have been completed for both drivers have returned negative results. One blood test by the Indiana Department of Toxicology is outstanding for both drivers.

There were 38 eighth grade students from Winamac Community Middle Schools and three chaperones on the bus at the time of the crash.

They were headed to Warsaw to see Elf the Musical.

One of the students, Owen Abbott, died at the scene.

Of the other students on the bus:

  • 1 student suffered an incapacitating head injury
  • 5 reported bruises to the head, face or back
  • 2 reported minor bleeding to the head or face
  • 11 reported head pain
  • 9 reported neck pain
  • 3 reported back pain

An adult on the bus sustained pain to the lower leg/foot.

The ISP report says the investigation will be handed over to the Marshall County Prosecutor's Office after it is complete.

Prosecutors say charges could be filed against the truck driver in the near future. 

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