Texas officials: 1 killed, 7 hurt in cheerleader bus crash

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BIG SPRING, Texas (AP) — A woman was killed and seven other people were injured when a semitrailer crashed into a bus carrying a group of West Texas high school cheerleaders, authorities said Saturday.

The small activity bus, which was carrying six cheerleaders and two cheerleader sponsors, was headed home Friday night after a football game in Colorado City, Texas, when it was hit on Interstate 20 near Big Spring, said Iraan-Sheffield School District Superintendent Kevin Allen.

The semitractor-trailer, traveling eastbound on I-20, lost control trying to avoid hitting a car that had slammed its brakes, said Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Oscar Villarreal. The semitrailer then veered across the center median and entered the westbound lanes of I-20, hitting the bus.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the crash but the road had been wet due to rainy conditions, Villarreal said.

Allen said the crash happened so fast that the bus was unable to react to the oncoming semitrailer.

One of the cheerleader sponsors was killed. DPS identified her as 52-year-old Elizabeth Pope of the small West Texas community of Iraan. Pope also ran a computer lab in the district's elementary school, Allen said.

The seven injured people were taken to hospitals in Big Spring and Lubbock. Four had been treated and released by Saturday afternoon.

Eric Finley, spokesman for University Medical Center in Lubbock, said three remained hospitalized — two in critical and one in satisfactory condition.

The cheerleaders ranged in age from 14 to 17. The other cheerleader sponsor was a 48-year-old woman.

Allen said the school district planned to have counselors at the high school on Monday and Tuesday. The high school has 125 students, while the entire district has about 550 students.

"Nobody in our community has ever gone through this. We are trying to figure out how do we best handle this for our kids," he said.

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