published Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Car driver dies; students on bus OK after crash in eastern New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS — A woman was killed when her car crossed the median and collided with a charter bus carrying schoolchildren from northwestern Florida on Interstate 10 in eastern New Orleans.

None of the children was reported injured, according to statements from New Orleans police and Kingdom Coach Company, the Alabama-based operator of the bus. Police said the driver and two passengers on the bus, which was also carrying adult chaperones, had minor injuries. A responding firefighter also suffered a minor hand injury.

Police and witnesses said the driver of an eastbound Honda Accord lost control on the rain-slick highway Thursday morning, crossed into the westbound lane and was struck by one of three buses. The students and chaperons were from Walker Elementary School in Crestview, Fla., headed to New Orleans for a trip to the zoo.

The name of the woman killed had not been released as of early afternoon.

“All of a sudden I saw her lose control. She came through the median right there and started spinning,” Bill Henderson, a driver of one of the buses, told New Orleans television stations.

Henderson said he was able to avoid the car, but the driver of the bus behind him could not. He credited that driver, identified by a bus company spokesman as Linda Baker, of Summerdale, Ala., with safely steering the bus off the highway.

The bus came to a stop, upright, among trees in marshy land just off the highway.

I-10 was closed in both directions for much of the morning. State highway officials said the highway was open by mid-afternoon.

Police said the accident remained under investigation.

The children did not get to the Audubon Zoo on Thursday, but will visit the aquarium on Friday, said zoo spokesman Frank Donze.

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