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Two killed in Payne County school bus accident

RIPLEY, Okla. (AP) A school bus collided with a flatbed pickup truck near this small Payne County community, killing a 16-year-old Ripley High School girl and the driver of the truck and injuring at least two others, officials said.

Sandra Deann Combs, 16, of Agra, a passenger on the school bus, and Carl Edward Tarver, 57, of Cushing, were killed in the 4:05 p.m. crash on Tuesday, said Diann Warnock, a communications officer with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Combs was pinned for about 1 1/2 hours by jammed bus doors before Cushing firefighters were able to cut her free, troopers said. She suffered massive head injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

Another passenger on the bus, Halli McKintire, sustained head and internal injuries and was taken to Cushing Regional Hospital in stable condition, the OHP said. Her hometown and age were not available.

The bus driver, Jimmie Sue Blose, 50, was flown by helicopter to St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, the patrol reported. Media relations coordinator Hether Haddox said Wednesday morning she could not release information on Blose.

Firefighters worked for about two hours to free Tarver from the wreckage of his truck, but he died of massive head injuries at the scene of the accident, the patrol said.

A passenger in Tarver's truck, Linda Lou Tarver, 54, sustained head and leg injuries and was taken to Cushing Regional Hospital before being transferred to Deaconess Hospital, the OHP said.

There were six other passengers on the bus but information about them, including names, ages and hometowns, wasn't immediately released.

The bus was eastbound on a county road when it failed to yield to the pickup, which was pulling a cattle trailer northbound on State Highway 18, Trooper Steve Burrows said in a report on the accident. The truck crashed into the bus on the front passenger side, Burrows said.

Eric Sams, an employee of an auto shop near the intersection where the crash occurred, witnessed the crash.

``The bus was spun completely around,'' Sams said. ``The front axle of the bus bounced off onto the road and onto the bus.''

The impact mangled the front end of the truck all the way up to the driver's side windshield and tore off the hood of the bus. Yellow debris from the bus and wheels were strewn about the area.

Ripley softball coach Tony Cazzelle said classes would be voluntary Wednesday and that counselors would be on hand to meet with students.

``It's just a little town, and something like this touches everybody,'' Cazzelle said. ``I know that everybody here knows everybody, and half of them are related.''

Cazzelle was coaching the girls' softball team when he found out about the crash.

``We finished the game, and I told the girls after the game,'' he said.

He said Combs ``was a real good friend to several players. We all prayed...''

Students were encouraged to arrive about 9:30 or 10 a.m. Wednesday. Buses were not scheduled to operate, officials said.

The Ripley district has about 300 elementary pupils and 125 high school students.

The community is about 16 miles southeast of Stillwater and about eight miles northeast of Perkins.
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