Bus carrying American Fork marching band crashes; 1 dead

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INKOM, Idaho -- One adult died and several students were injured when a bus carrying members of the American Fork High School Marching Band rolled on Interstate 15 near the Utah-Idaho border Saturday night.

Idaho State Police say the bus that crashed was carrying approximately 50 students, as well as two adults, plus the bus driver. ISP says a woman whose name is not being released yet died in the crash.

Two students were flown to Portneuf West Medical Center in Pocatello. Their injuries are not life-threatening. The other students from the bus will also be taken to the medical center as a precaution. ISP says none of the students' injuries is life-threatening and none of the students will need to stay in the hospital.

The bus rolled on I-15 at milepost 49, approximately 2 miles north of McCammon, Idaho at 7:18 p.m. ISP says a preliminary investigation indicates that the driver had a medical condition which caused the crash.

The vehicle involved was one from a caravan of four buses traveling home after students competed in a regional band competition in Pocatello.

The band director, John Miller, told the Salt Lake Tribune that the teacher killed in the accident tried to avoid the crash by grabbing the steering wheel when the driver lost control and the bus veered off the road. Miller said the instructor tried to get the bus back on course, but fell out of a window as the vehicle rolled.

"She loved her students, they were her life. I know she died trying to save them," Miller told the newspaper.

Student tells what happened

After the accident, KSL spoke with one of the students from American Fork High School.

Andrew James is in the 11th grade and is a drummer with the marching band. He said there were four buses full of students in a caravan heading back home. The second bus is the one which rolled; he was in the bus right behind it.

He told us the students on his bus stayed on the bus after the accident.

"We didn't get off," he said. "But once we knew what was going on we started praying. We stopped, started praying, stayed on the bus. We tried to call people on the bus to make sure they were OK."

We asked him if he knew how many people were injured. "There was a girl I talked to on the phone who may have had a broken arm. There's a girl that might have a broken leg. There are a lot of cuts and bruises and bumps but it's not too bad," he said.

James said his school won first place in the band competition but now that's not the important thing.

Parents, fellow students gather

Fellow students gather at American Fork High School Saturday night.
Fellow students gather at American Fork High School Saturday night.

It's a difficult and heartbreaking night not only for American Fork High School but the entire city of American Fork. The marching band is a huge part of the community, so this tragedy is hitting hard.

Parents of the band members and fellow students started gathering at the high school Saturday evening after news of the accident began to spread. Many of them have been trying to reach those on the trip by cell phone to gather as much information as they can.

The band had been scheduled to arrive home around 10 p.m. Now they are expected to arrive some time after midnight. Some school administrators and counselors planned to be on hand.

Band's history

The American Fork Marching Band has a very impressive resume going back several decades. The band performed just two years ago in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, which is a prestigious invite.

File image of American Fork High School Marching Band.
File image of American Fork High School Marching Band.

Band members also marched in the 2005 inauguration of George W. Bush in Washington, D.C.

In addition, the band frequently travels around the country to compete in competitions and has brought home numerous trophies over the years.

Even with the high cost of travel expenses, the band has enjoyed generous support, not only through sponsorships from businesses but also community members who have made donations.


Story compiled with information from Sarah Dallof, Sam Penrod, Keith McCord, Becky Bruce and The Associated Press.

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