Covering Louisiana

Feb 5, 2013 4:41 PM by AP

SUV driver dies in head-on crash with school bus

VENTRESS, La. (AP) - One person is dead and at least three elementary students were injured after a school bus crash in Pointe Coupee Parish.

Trooper First Class Jared Sandifer, a spokesman for Louisiana State Police, said the crash happened just before 7:30 a.m. Tuesday on Louisiana Highway 415.

According to Sandifer, the driver of a sport utility vehicle was headed north on the two-lane highway, crossed the road's center line for an unknown reason and crashed head-on into the bus, which was carrying nine students.

The SUV's driver, Jody T. Harris, 38, of Ventress, sustained fatal injuries from the crash, Sandifer said. Harris was wearing a seatbelt, he said.

"Impairment on the part of Harris is unknown at this time," he said. "Troopers have submitted a toxicology sample to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for analysis."

Sandifer said three of the children on the bus and the driver, Laurie Olinde, 46, of Ventress, sustained minor injuries and were transported to area hospitals for treatment. The other students were either transported by their parents or the school district to Pointe Coupee General Hospital to be checked out, he said.

State police said the initial investigation showed that the crash happened as Harris, for unknown reasons, failed to negotiate a curve causing her SUV to cross the centerline into the southbound lane and hit the bus.

The highway, closed after the wreck, was cleared and reopened at about 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sandifer said.

The crash remains under investigation.

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