Student bus crashes, killing five

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 17, 2005

OSSEO, Wis. (AP) &045; A high school band director known for making band fun was among five people killed when a busload of students and chaperones returning from a marching band competition crashed into an overturned tractor-trailer on Sunday, authorities said.

Band director Douglas Greenhalgh, 48, his wife Therese, 51, and their 11-year-old granddaughter, Morgan Greenhalgh, were killed, along with bus driver Paul Rasmus, 78, of Chippewa Falls, and Brandon Atherton, a 24-year-old student teacher, authorities said.

Twenty-nine others were injured, some seriously, troopers said.

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&8221;He was a really good teacher. We always had fun in his classroom,&8220; said Tania Richter, 17, a clarinet player who was sleeping on the floor toward the back of the bus when it crashed. &8221;We’re going to truly miss him.&8220;

The accident occurred at around 2 a.m. Sunday when the bus crashed into an overturned semi truck, which had rolled over and jackknifed on Interstate 94, blocking both westbound lanes about five miles northwest of Osseo, said Capt. Douglas Notbohm of the Wisconsin State Patrol.

&8221;I don’t know how much opportunity there was for braking action,&8220; Notbohm said.

&8221;I don’t believe there was much time for the bus driver to react to a total, dynamic lane closure in front of him.&8220;

All of the windows on the bus were knocked out in the crash.

Nearly everyone was sleeping and was happy that the band’s routine, &8221;Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves&8220; had placed third in the competition Saturday in Whitewater, Richter said.

Chippewa Falls school superintendent Mike Schoch said the team had stayed Friday night in Whitewater and noted it was common to return late Saturday so everyone could be home on Sunday.

&8221;It’s a terrific tragedy and loss to our school and community,&8220; Schoch said. &8221;Our community is stunned by it.&8220;

Richter’s stepfather David Bhend said there were always quality concerts and quality performances under Greenhalgh’s leadership.

&8221;He shared a great gift with a lot of people,&8220; Bhend said. &8221;The gift of music and personal growth. He made these kids find themselves and got them to do the best that they can.&8220;

Bhend said members of the music program under Greenhalgh had taken many trips over the years, including to New York and New Orleans.

At least 400 students and parents met at the school of about 1,500 students Sunday to get information on the accident. Counselors and clergy would be available &8221;to address their spiritual needs,&8220; Schoch said.