BENTON COUNTY, Miss. — A school bus driver was killed and several students were injured after the driver reportedly suffered a medical emergency that caused the bus to roll over onto its side and into a ditch here on Tuesday, WMC Action News 5 reports.
The incident occurred before 8 a.m. near Highway 72 and Whippoorwill Rd., according to the news source. Benton County Coroner Larry Hobson told WMC Action News 5 that the bus driver, 63-year-old William “Chester” Cole, reportedly clutched his chest and slumped over in his seat before the crash, leading them to believe he suffered from a heart attack. That apparently caused the Benton County School District bus to veer off the road and flip onto its side.
Eight students were on board the bus at the time, including Cole’s granddaughter who saw him clutch his chest, Cole's family told the news source. All of the students were transported to the hospital with varying injuries, WMC Action News 5 reports. Dr. Regan Williams of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital told the news source that four of the students who were airlifted to the hospital suffered serious, but not critical injuries, while the other four were expected to go home on Tuesday.
Steve Bostick, the superintendent for Benton County School District, told WMC Action News 5 that Cole had been driving for the district for about five years and that he was “one of the most dependable drivers we have in the district.”
In a statement obtained by Localmemphis.com, Benton County School District said that it is “mourning the loss of one of its own beloved bus drivers, Mr. Cole,” and that “Superintendent Bostick and various school board members are currently visiting each student involved.”