4 in vehicle die when SUV hits school team bus (updated at 8:15 p.m.)
CENTERVILLE — Three children and an adult died Saturday when their sports utility vehicle collided head-on with Lafayette Parish school bus in St. Mary Parish, the Associated Press reported.
At 11:41 a.m., 36-year-old Ladonna Cheatham of Patterson was westbound on U.S. 90 in a 2004 Kia Sorrento when her left rear tire failed and her vehicle traveled off the left side of the road, crossed the median and struck a Lafayette Parish School Bus driven by 40-year-old Amy Dore of Sunset, Louisiana State Police said in a release this evening.
At the time of the accident, Dore was eastbound on U.S. 90, state police said.
Three occupants in Cheatham’s vehicle, 6-year-old Destiny Cheatham, 7-year-old Dwayne Escort and 16-year-old Marcus Cheatham, who were unrestrained, were ejected from the vehicle in the accident, which occurred at U.S. 90 and La. 317, state police said.
All four were pronounced dead at the scene by the St. Mary Parish Coroner, State Police said.
State police said a fifth occupant in Cheatham’s vehicle, identified by State Police as 17-year-old Mark Cheatham, was restrained and was airlifted to an area hospital with moderate injuries.
Dore, who was wearing a seatbelt, was not injured, but one adult, Cody Ortego, 23, of Lafayette, sustained moderate injuries and was transported to an area hospital, state police said.
Lafayette High School Principal Patrick Leonard said the bus was carrying the school’s baseball team, which was on its way to a scrimmage at Berwick High School. Coaches also were aboard the bus, he said. State police said there were 30 students and five adults on the bus.
Seven students on the bus, all teenagers, were transported to area hospitals with minor injuries, State police said.
Ortego is an assistant baseball coach at Lafayette High, The Lafayette Daily Advertiser reported.
Lafayette High head baseball coach Sam Taulli told The Advertiser tonight that all but one of his players have been released from the hospital. The final player was complaining of headaches, he said.
Taulli said the worst of the injuries was two cracked vertebrae. But “something like 14 or 15 suffered concussions” and “lots of broken noses,” he told the newspaper.
It is unknown if impairment was a factor in this crash; however, routine toxicology samples were obtained and will be submitted to the State Police Crime Lab for analysis, State Police said.
State police said they are continuing their investigation of the accident.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press and The Daily Advertiser.