Franklin County, Mo (KSDK) -- A St. James student and another driver died in a Missouri school bus crash on I-44, near Gray Summit on Thursday morning.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Corporal Jeff Wilson said one of the victims, 15-year-old Jessica Brinker, was a student from the St. James School District on the bus carrying the female students. The male students were on a separate bus.
The second victim, 19-year-old Daniel Schatz, was the driver of the GMC pick-up truck that ended up under one of the school buses. Daniel was the son of David Schatz, who just won the Republican primary for Missouri State Representative in District 111.
Daniel Schatz was a walk-on for the University of Missouri's football last year as quarterback, but Mizzou said he did not play in a game, but dressed out for all home games. Schatz had transferred to Westminster College in Fulton and was planning to play football there in the fall.
The two buses were traveling eastbound on I-44 when it happened shortly after 10:00 a.m.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Corporal Wilson said there was construction on I-44 near the Gray Summit exit. The semi driver slowed down almost to a stop. As that happened, the pick-up truck driver ran into the semi, which was not pulling a trailer. The 75-year-old bus driver could not stop and hit the pick-up. The second bus driver, a 38-year-old woman, crashed into the first bus.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol report, the 75-year-old bus driver was inattentive and the 38-year-old bus driver was following too closely.
Click here to view Missouri State Highway Patrol crash report
Click here for pictures from the scene
Tim Laske, President of Climate Express, confirmed it was his tractor trailer that was involved in the Missouri school bus crash. He said the driver of the truck was taken to a hospital after the accident and seemed to be okay. He said his driver was slowing down for construction when his truck was rear-ended by another vehicle.
Kolby Griffith, a student at John F. Hodge High School, said he tried get as far away from the site as fast as he could after smelling gasoline and hearing adults yelling to flee the wreckage.
The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation team to the scene to establish details surrounding the accident. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the final report could come within 15 to 20 days.
As of Friday morning, only two people involved in the crash remained hospitalized. A 16-year-old girl was in in stable condition at St Louis Children's Hospital. Another teenager was still being treated at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center.
A bus brought 36 students involved in the accident to Cardinal Glennon around 1:00 p.m. Thursday. Doctors and nurses met them at the ambulance entrance. All of the students walked off the bus under their own power. Some had bumps and bruises, but no one appeared to have serious injuries. Many of them were released as of 4:15 p.m.
A media relations spokesperson with St. John's Hospital said St. John's Mercy Medical Center in Creve Coeur received six patients so far Only four with minor cuts and abrasions remained as of 1:30 p.m. The four range in age from 13 to 16. A teenager from St. John's Mercy was flown to Children's Hospital for treatment.
Kate Miller, a spokesperson for St. John's Hospital in Washington, Missouri, said they handled six patients. One was treated and released and another patient was being transfered to another hospital. All the children were treated and released by 3:30 p.m.
The secretary from First Baptist Church in St. James said a church member, a teenage boy, was on the bus. She said they received a phone call about the accident around 10:30 a.m. Some of the children had injuries, but they were not believed to be life-threatening. She said the kids were on the way to Six Flags for a band trip, which was about 10 miles from the crash scene. The girls were on one bus and the boys were on another bus. The students are eighth graders through 12th graders.
St. James Mayor Dennis Wilson said the annual band camp ends with a trip to Six Flags. He said he was told a number of students were being treated for non life-threatening injuries and that parents of the children on the bus trip were on their way to the Missouri school bus crash scene or to other locations where the children may have been taken.
Six Flags St. Louis confirmed it was expecting buses from St. James of band students.
Eastbound lanes of I-44 were reopened as of about 4:15 p.m.
St. James' population is about 4,000 people. Nearly 600 students are enrolled at the high school.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
Tribute to Jessica Rae Brinker
The family of Jessica Brinker would like to thank everyone for their condolences, prayers, and support during this extremely difficult time. Jessica had asked that all friends, in the event of her death, to wear bright colors to celebrate her short life here on this planet and to rejoice in her new life with Christ.
Jessica is survived by two older sisters, an older brother, and both of her parents.
She loved singing and dancing with her sister, Samantha, to the song "Tearing Up My Heart" by N'SYNC. She was an honor student involved in color guard and played in the band. She was also an armature artist who loved working with kids, being outdoors, and loved her Jesus.
When asked of her friends what they loved about her they said the following:
They don't ever remember seeing her without a smile on her face
She was voted the friendliest girl by her classmates
She was goofy and always wore the craziest outfits that only she could pull off
If any situation made her mad she would always find something to laugh about
She will be missed by them all. She will leave a huge void in their lives and they will never forget her. More than grieving her death, Jessica would love if everyone celebrated her life here on earth as well as in heaven.