14 students and driver hurt in bus wreck near St. Louis

The top of the damaged school bus is seen as first responders clean up after a school bus crashed near Kirkwood, Mo., on Thursday, May 11, 2017. (Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

ST. LOUIS, MO (AP) — Fourteen children and a school bus driver were injured Thursday when the bus swerved to avoid an accident on an interstate near St. Louis, drove over a guardrail and down a steep embankment.

Authorities said none of the children suffered life-threatening injuries — mostly scrapes and bruises. The bus driver suffered moderate injuries but is expected to recover fully, and Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Al Nothum said her ability to keep the bus from tipping over as it rolled down the bumpy, grassy ravine may have saved lives.

“If it would have flipped over there would have been a lot more injuries or even worse,” Nothum said.

First responders move a driver from a school bus that crashed near Kirkwood, Mo., on Thursday, May 11, 2017. The school bus, carrying students from St. Louis to a suburban grade school as part of a voluntary desegregation program, crashed after hitting an interstate guardrail and plunging about 15 feet down an embankment. (Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

The accident happened about 8 a.m. as the bus carried students in the St. Louis region’s voluntary desegregation program from the city to Hanna Woods Elementary School in Manchester, Missouri, in St. Louis County.

Nothum said a car had just passed a pickup truck and was in the far left lane when it struck the concrete median and spun out of control on pavement wet from rain.

Nothum said it wasn’t clear if the car struck the bus, but the bus driver swerved to avoid it. The bus topped the guardrail and went about 15 feet (5 meters) down the embankment, coming to a rest against trees and brush.

One child was ejected through an emergency door on the bus. Nothum said that child may have had the worst of the injuries, but even his were just cuts and bruises.

The children were taken to St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Spokeswoman Abby Wuellner said most of the injuries were minor and while a few kids were being looked at to rule out more serious injuries, no one was critically hurt.

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