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School Bus-Truck Crash Kills Principal, Injures 40 Adventist High School Choir Returning From Clarkston When Collision Occurs

Associated Press

The last song the teenage choir students from Country Haven Academy performed on their road trip was “Old Irish Blessing,” which offers hope for safe journeys. Its first lines: “May the road rise to meet your feet.”

As the choir students were returning to Pasco from Clarkston later Saturday, their bus collided with a tractor-trailer truck.

The bus driver, who was also the school principal, was killed and 40 students were injured. Six remained in the hospital Sunday, one in critical condition.

Country Haven Academy is a Seventh-day Adventist boarding school located a few miles north of Pasco, and nearly all the 52 students enrolled at the school were on the bus.

Vice Principal Richard Calderon said Sunday that classes will resume today.

He said crisis counselors will be on hand to help students this week.

Calderon also said some students told him the lights on the school bus went out a few seconds before the crash, which may have caused the truck driver to fail to see the vehicle in dark, overcast weather. He blamed an electrical system failure.

The Washington State Patrol said that major accident investigators were to examine the wreckage today.

The students were returning from an overnight trip to Clarkston, where they performed during Sabbath services at the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Many were sleeping when the vehicles collided on Washington 124, some 25 miles east of Pasco.

Bus driver Ray Cornforth, 52, of Pasco died from traumatic injuries.

The truck’s driver, Miguel Castro, 27, of Pasco, was in critical condition with head and internal injuries at St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla. Six students also remained hospitalized Sunday.

Kit Law, 16, was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment of a lacerated liver, spleen and kidney and a broken arm. He was listed in critical condition Sunday.

Two students remained hospitalized at St. Mary in satisfactory condition. They are Jennifer Ambriz, 17, of Richland, with a fractured hip, and Brian Wahlan, 15, of Lincoln, Neb., with internal injuries.

Student Amy Wahlan, 16, was hospitalized in fair condition at Walla Walla General Hospital with a fractured leg.

Two other students were hospitalized at Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Pasco. Their conditions were stable but hospital officials would not release their names.

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