KUNA, Idaho – Authorities say one child has died and four others were injured Thursday when a dump truck collided with a school bus carrying a dozen elementary school students outside a small southwestern Idaho city.
Canyon County Coroner Vicki DeGeus-Morris confirmed the child's identity as 11-year-old Daniel Robert Cook. She says the boy died of blunt force trauma sustained in the crash.
Four children were taken to the hospital with injuries, and the bus driver was taken to a hospital for emotional distress.
Idaho State Police investigators are still trying to determine what happened and who may be at fault. Because it involves a fatality, criminal charges are forthcoming, said Cpl. Timothy Davidson.
"It's not just an infraction, it's going to be a criminal charge, more than likely," he said.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Theresa Baker says all the kids were sixth-graders or younger. The names and conditions of the injured children have not yet been released.
Adam Cobb, whose son was friends with Daniel Cook, was at the crash site Thursday to collect the deceased boy's belongings for the family. Cobb's son wasn't among the kids on the bus.
"It's a terrible loss not only for the family but for the community," Cobb said. "Daniel loved to wrestle and play football. He was just the kind of kid you'd want at your home. We love him — he was just a good boy."
Daniel Cook also lived nearby and would only have been on the bus a few minutes before the crash, Cobb said.
Investigators said Cook's parents arrived at the scene about 30 minutes after the crash and unaware of their son's condition. ISP Sgt. John Burke said the father knew where his son sat on the bus and recognized immediately the significant damage in that section of the bus.
"It's a horrible ... it's a terrible thing," Burke said. "The family (of the deceased child) is devastated. They need our prayers and all we can do is hope they can get through it."
The collision occurred at an intersection on a two-lane country road lined by homes and small farm fields between Nampa and Kuna, a town of 16,000 on the edge of the Snake River Canyon.
Investigators say the dump truck was traveling north on Happy Valley Road, when the driver approached the four-way intersection with no stop sign and speed limit of 50 mph. The bus was traveling east on the intersecting road, which did have a stop sign. Weather and road conditions were not factors and speed before impact appeared to be low, they said.
Burke said it's too early to determine what went wrong.
"We can't really speculate. We need to gather more information and continue the investigation," Burke said.
The rear right section of the bus had visible damage, with broken windows and a torn metal exterior. The front end of the dump truck was lying in a nearby yard.
A routine inspection of the bus found no maintenance issues, but a similar inspection of the commercial truck found multiple equipment violations. Davidson said it's unclear whether those deficiencies played a role in the crash.
Idaho Department of Education Spokeswoman Melissa McGrath said the Kuna School District runs its own bussing operation, meaning it buys the vehicles and hires its own drivers.
The last time a student died in a bus crash in Idaho was in Boise in 1969, she said.
Associated Press writer Rebecca Boone and correspondent Todd Dvorak contributed from Boise.