A Wisconsin high school band director, his wife and his granddaughter were among the five people killed when a charter bus carrying students returning from a state marching band competition crashed into an overturned semi-truck early Sunday, police said.
Thirty other people were injured in the accident just outside Eau Claire. Six of the injured had to be airlifted to hospitals, Wisconsin state patrol spokesman Brent Pickard said.
Killed were the driver of the bus, 78-year-old Paul Rasmus; band director Douglas Greenhalgh, 48; his wife, Therese Greenhalgh, 51; their granddaughter Morgan Greenhalgh, 11; and Branden Atherton, 24, according to a statement from the Wisconsin State Patrol.
The Whole Foods Market rig was traveling westbound on Interstate 94 just outside Eau Claire around 2 a.m. (3 a.m. ET), when it veered off the road for a few feet, said Capt. Doug Notbohm, the northwest regional commander for the Wisconsin State Patrol.
When the truck tried to get back on the road, it jackknifed and overturned, blocking all lanes of traffic, he said. The flat-fronted bus crashed into the bottom part of the overturned trailer, instantly killing four people, including the bus driver, Notbohm said. The truck driver, who sustained non-life-threatening injuries, is being questioned by investigators, he said.
The National Transportation Safety Board is involved in the investigation, he said. Weather did not appear to be a factor, and toxicology tests have been administered, Notbohm said. The bus was one of four charter buses carrying 200 students back to Chippewa Falls after the marching band placed third at the competition Saturday night at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater near Madison, according to Chippewa Falls High School assistant principal James Martell
He said Chippewa Falls, a town of about 13,000, is "just reeling" from the news. The school has set up a crisis intervention team, including counselors, for students, family members and staff, Martell said, CNN reports.