Several students sent to hospital after school bus crash north of Cape Girardeau

School bus accident along Highway 177.
School bus accident along Highway 177.
Students were aboard at the time of the accident.
Students were aboard at the time of the accident.
The crash involves bus #6.
The crash involves bus #6.
Driver of the car transported to a local hospital.
Driver of the car transported to a local hospital.
By Christy Hendricks - email

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - A Metropolis man is in serious condition after the car he was driving crashed with a school bus Wednesday morning.

Fifteen students from Nell Holcomb school have minor injuries, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol's crash report.
It happened around 7:45 a.m. Wednesday on Hwy. 177 about five miles north of Cape Girardeau.
The school bus involved is Nell Holcomb bus #6.  Superintendent Darryl Pannier says the bus had about 40 students on the bus.
Witnesses on the scene that saw the crash say a 2009 Ford Focus driven by 40-year-old Randall Hunerkoch swerved into the path of the bus driven by 51-year-old Sue Rees.
"It was worse than anything I had ever seen or caught on tape," said Jerry Jaco.
Jaco was two cars behind the bus, taking his daughter to school when the crash happened.
"I saw parts of the car fly everywhere," he said. "The car went up in the air, did a flip, landed."
School Superintendent Darryl Pannier was driving just behind the bus when it crashed.
"(The) gentleman crossed over the center line, hitting the bus head on," Pannier said. "Wasn't nothing could be done at that point in time. The bus driver did a wonderful job of getting off the side of the road after it happened."
As emergency personnel rushed to the scene, school staff and parents comforted the kids from kindergarteners to eighth graders waiting to be taken off the bus.
"Quite a few people from the school helping us to keep track of all the patients that were on the bus to make we can keep count of all who's leaving the scene and who's still here," said Assistant Chief Kelly Allen with the East County Fire Protection Disctict.
Emergency crews cut Hunerkoch out of the car.  He was taken to St. Francis Medical Center with serious injuries and remained in the hospital Wednesday night.
"People need to slow down when they get off work on this road cause a lot of people are tired, cause I work out there myself and it's really dangerous," Jaco said.
Highway 177 was closed for about an hour as emergency crews worked to clear the accident. The road is back open.
Fifteen students went to the hospital either by ambulance or private transportation.  All were released to parents or back to school Wednesday.  The driver of the bus also went to the hospital with minor injuries.
"As always as far as the school district was concerned and the kids, it wasn't as bad as it could have been," Pannier said.

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