Oct. 31—OSCEOLA COUNTY — Coaches and student-athletes from Traverse City West Senior High School's boys' and girls' cross-country teams are said to be doing OK after the charter bus carrying them to a meet was involved in a fatal crash late Friday morning.
Traverse City Area Public Schools Superintendent John VanWagoner said Monday that no one on the bus sustained any "serious injuries" or was taken to the hospital. Michigan State Police officials, however, confirmed they are investigating the crash after the driver of the vehicle struck by the bus was killed.
The crash happened at 11:30 a.m. on M-115 near 5th Avenue in Osceola County after a tree fell and obstructed most of the roadway, causing traffic to back up, according to MSP officials from the Mount Pleasant post.
State police said the charter bus carrying the students struck a Buick Enclave, which was pushed into a guardrail and sideswiped a tractor-trailer truck. The bus then crossed the centerline and struck the guardrail and an oncoming vehicle.
The driver of the Buick was transported to the hospital and pronounced dead, police said.
The name of the driver has not yet been released to the public, according to Lt. Derrick Carroll of the Gaylord post.
The TC West cross-country teams were en route to Shepherd to compete in the Division 1 regional championship meet when the crash happened.
TC West Athletic Director Jason Carmien said the coaches and athletes are "doing OK" after the crash.
"We're hanging in there," he said.
VanWagoner said the parents and guardians of the student-athletes were immediately notified about the crash by coaches and TC West athletic department staff.
Carmien said the school used a charter bus company to provide transportation for the athletes and coaches because of the ongoing shortage of school bus drivers in the area.
"We don't have enough school bus drivers to run our school day routes, so we don't have the ability to use school buses on school days like we used to," Carmien said. "We're typically using charters now more than school buses because of that shortage."
That issue not only affects TC West, Carmien said, it has an impact on everybody.
"Very few (school) districts have enough drivers, and we are not one of those," he said. "We have a very big shortage."
The TC West student-athletes and coaches were picked up by a Marion Public Schools bus and taken the rest of the way to Shepherd for the regional meet. They were all able to participate and were on time for the activities, VanWagoner said.
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