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Bus Carrying High School Band Members Crashes ; At Least 5 Dead

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OSSEO, Wis. (AP) -- A bus carrying high school students home from a band competition collided with a semi truck early Sunday, killing five passengers, the Wisconsin State Patrol said.

About 30 people were transported to area hospitals after the crash which took place shortly after 2 a.m. on Interstate 94 west of Osseo, patrol spokesman Brent Pickard said. The students from Chippewa Falls High School were returning from a competition at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, some 200 miles to the southeast of Chippewa Falls.

"It's a terrific tragedy and loss to our school and community," Chippewa Falls school superintendent Mike Schoch said. "Our community is stunned by it."

State Patrol Sgt. Jerry Voight described the accident as a rear-end type of crash, adding, "We are still piecing it together."

The bus did not roll over or catch fire, and skies were clear and the road was dry at the time of the accident, Pickard said.

Schoch said most of the injuries were minor and many of the students were released and back home with their parents later in the morning.

The bus was one of four chartered buses carrying students from the band competition, Pickard said.

Schoch said the four buses carried about 140 students and 15 to 20 adult chaperones, and Pickard said authorities were not immediately certain how many were on the bus involved in the crash.

Chippewa Falls High School, which has about 1,500 students, was opened Sunday for those who wanted to meet with counselors in the wake of the accident, the superintendent said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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