A Chippewa Trails bus carrying students from Chippewa Falls High School and a semi collided on Interstate 94 about three miles north of Osseo in Eau Claire County early Sunday morning. The semi truck is licensed to Whole Food Market Group, Inc. of Munster, Indiana.
Four people on the bus were pronounced dead at the scene, and a fifth was pronounced dead at an area hospital from injuries sustained in the crash.
The fatalities include the driver of the bus, 78-year old Paul Rasmus of Chippewa Falls. The fatalities also include 48-year old Douglas Greenhalgh, 51-year old Therese Greenhalgh, 11-year old Morgan Greenhalgh, and 24-year old Brandon Atherton. 29 people were also confirmed injured.
Seven medical helicopters were used to transport the injured to the hospitals. 11 victims were taken to Luther Hospital and 7 to Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire. Others were taken to area hospitals in Osseo, Marshfield and the Twin Cities.
Initial reports said the bus collided with a jackknifed semi-trailer truck as the bus came over a hill. The driver told the State Patrol that his truck drove into the median strip, and as he tried to correct his direction, the vehicle jackknifed.
Chippewa Falls school officials described the situation as "a crisis".
Interstate 94 in both directions between Foster in Eau Claire County and Osseo were closed. Chippewa Falls high school administrators, grief counselors and clergy were meeting with families on Sunday.
There will be a press conference tomorrow at 6 AM at the Chippewa Falls High School.
The students were returning from a high school band competition Saturday in Whitewater.
The National Travel and Safety Board will be assisting the State Patrol with their investigation.