ST. PAUL, Minn.– The Lyon County sheriff’s office released transcripts Wednesday of the 911 calls from the Cottonwood, Minn., bus crash Feb. 19 that killed four students and injured 15 other people.
The six calls including one from the driver of a truck crushed by the school bus are marked by the sound of sirens and screaming, according to the transcript. Dispatchers summoned emergency responders to the scene after the first call came in at about 3:25 p.m.
Here are excerpts from the transcript.
Dispatcher Mary Gislason: 911 emergency.
Unknown female: Um, I would like to report an accident.
UF: I am on the, Highway 23 right before Hanley Falls, and a pickup ran into a school bus.
MG: OK. Uh, just one moment.
The second call came in to dispatcher Terri Lovre:
TL: 911 emergency.
Unknown Female: Yes, I’m driving behind a school bus here at Cottonwood, that’s, I suppose, on the south side of Cottonwood. A van ran into the bus and the bus tipped over.
TL: OK. I think we have, we’re getting another call. We’ve got a couple calls on that now. Um, the other gal is getting them paged. Do you know about the extent of injuries?
UF: I don’t. All the people just climbed out right now. (Inaudible) and the bus is sideways. Nobody came out of the bus.
TL: OK, so they are, some are coming, crawling out of the bus now?
UF: No, nobody’s crawling out of the bus. Oh, now, I see one, I can’t really see ’cause I’m a ways away.
TL: OK, hold on just a moment.
The third call came from a man with initials LM. He was told ambulances and firetrucks had been paged to the scene.
The fourth and fifth calls came from an operator with the General Motors OnStar in-vehicle safety and security system, apparently summoned by James M. Hancock, 45, of Marshall, whose truck was partly crushed by the bus. The OnStar operator put 911 dispatcher Lovre in touch with the truck driver. The calls, in part:
OnStar operator: I’m reporting an accident at that location …
Dispatcher Lovre: OK.
OS: And I think there’s injuries ’cause all I could hear was screaming in the vehicle.
OS: Thank you for holding. I have the 911 center on the line. Go ahead.
TL: Hello, can I help you?
(lots of background noises but no clear words)
TL: Hello, can I help you?
Unknown male: We got a bad accident!
TL: Where at?
UM: We’re by Cottonwood.
TL: Is it involving a school bus?
UM: School bus, yep.
TL: Is, it is involving a school bus? OK, we do have help coming to that accident. OK? Were you involved in it? Sir, were you involved?
OS: We’re cutting in and out of the vehicle, but this vehicle was connected to one involved, yes.
TL: OK. I need to put you on hold. I’ve got another 911, just a moment.
OS: All right.
A moment later, dispatcher Gislason is on the line with Hancock, via OnStar. Again, in part:
OS: Mr. Hancock, are you still there?
JH: Yes, I’m here.
OS: Are you OK?
JH: I, I’m hurt. I’m hurtin’ all over.
(background talking unknown female: “Get all the kids out.” Sirens going).
OS: Dispatcher, are you still there? (background radio traffic) Is the ambulance arriving there for you, sir?
JH: Rescue’s here!
The final call provided in the transcript came to dispatcher Lovre, but nobody spoke after she answered.
Dispatcher Gislason declined to comment on the experience when called at her Marshall home this afternoon. A call to Lovre had not been returned this afternoon.
Rescue workers are seen at the site of the bus crash, Tuesday Feb. 19, 2008