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Head on collision with school bus leaves 4 dead and several wounded

All bus passengers survived, but 4 of 5 SUV occupants did not.
All bus passengers survived, but 4 of 5 SUV occupants did not.

ALEXANDRIA, La - Earlier today a school bus carrying the Lafayette High School baseball team was struck head on by a SUV killing 4 people in the vehicle and injuring several of the passengers on the bus.

Though all occupants on the bus survived 4 of the 5 passangers were unrestrained and ejected from the SUV that hit the bus head on. A child seat was found on the scene but were not believed to have been used.

The crash took place at 11:41 a.m. on Saturday. Ladonna Cheatham, 36, of Patterson was driving her 2004 Kia Sorrento west on US Highway 90. The Lafayette Parish School Bus was being driven by Amy Dore, 40, of Sunset. The crash is still under investigation at this time.

While only minor injuries have been reported from those on the school bus thanks to the drivers swift actions, in the vehicle, driver, Ladonna Cheatham, a "6-year-old girl, a 7-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy were all unrestrained and ejected from the vehicle." They were pronounced dead on the scene.

The bodies laid in the grass in the median for some time after the wreck, and many students will never forget the trauma surrounding this grizzly day. It is not believed that child restraints were used though there was one found on the scene.

Mark Chatham, 17, was restrained and was the only survivor in the motor vehicle. He was air lifted to a nearby hospital and remains in stable condition suffering moderate injuries.

The vehicle being driven Cheatham had an issue rendering failure of the left rear tire. Why this happened is under investigation. Cheatham's SUV traveled over the center line hitting the school bus head on.

Acadian Ambulance services and Air Med helicopters did transport 11 bus passengers to different area hospitals, but it was for precautionary measures only. No life threatening injuries were suffered by the bus's occupants. There were 3 helicopters and 8 ground units used to transport patients.

Patrick Leonard, Lafayette High School Principal, did confirm that the team was traveling to a scrimmage and both the team and its coaches were on board the school bus at the time of the collision. A head count of 30 students and 5 adults was done, and all are fine but for one adult who was transported to a nearby hospital with "moderate to severe" injuries.

Lafayette Parish Assistant Superintendent, Sandra Billeaudeau, along with Transportation Director, Damon Evans, released a statement saying, “As in all accidents involving LPSS buses, the driver will be tested for alcohol or other substances, but at this time we have no reason to believe the bus driver to have been in fault. In fact, state police have indicated to us that her actions likely prevented greater injury to her passengers.”

It continued, “At this time, we are working to obtain more information and confirm the status of those taken to area hospitals,” the statement continued. “We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss of life and our hearts go out to the family of the victims.”

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