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Semi driver faces tentative OWI charges after crashing into school bus on Interstate; 2 children remain hospitalized, 1 critical
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Semi driver faces tentative OWI charges after crashing into school bus on Interstate; 2 children remain hospitalized, 1 critical

Semi truck and school bus crash

Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a crash Wednesday between a semi truck and a school bus on Interstate 39-90-94 near DeForest.

The driver of a semitrailer that crashed into a school bus Wednesday on Interstate 39/90/94 near DeForest injuring 20 people faces tentative charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and causing injury by vehicle, a Columbia County official said.

On Thursday, the State Patrol identified the semitrailer driver as 42-year-old Wayne Edward Murphy, of Indianapolis. He was taken to Columbia County Jail, an official said, and has no known prior OWI convictions.

One child remained in critical condition Thursday with injuries that were not considered life-threatening at UW Health’s American Family Children’s Hospital, UW Health spokeswoman Lisa Brunette said. Another child was listed in good condition at the Children’s Hospital, Brunette said.

Eleven other patients from Wednesday’s crash were treated at UW Health facilities.

The bus, operated by Lakeside Buses of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, was carrying about 30 people from Hope Christian School in Milwaukee when the driver pulled over on the shoulder near mile marker 122 in Columbia County due to mechanical problems.

The bus was rear-ended by the semitrailer, a 2016 Freightliner Power Unit, around 10:15 a.m. on the northbound side of the Interstate.

Ted Dahl, the owner of Dahl Trucking, which employed Murphy, said he has worked for the company for “quite some time” and that he would be off the road until the investigation is completed.

“At this point in time, all of our thoughts and prayers go to those kids and their parents and families,” Dahl said.

Several calls to Hope Christian Schools, which has multiple campuses throughout Milwaukee, were not returned Thursday.

In a Facebook post Wednesday, the school said the students were from the Semper campus and were on a year-end field trip.

The driver of the bus was 51-year-old Yvonne Gayton, of Milwaukee, according to the State Patrol, which initially erroneously named a 67-year-old Madison retiree on Thursday as the driver of the school bus.

Officials from Lakeside Buses said they are working closely with the State Patrol as the investigation into the crash continues.

“We look forward to their speedy recovery and return to HOPE Christian School: Semper for the end of the school year,” Lakeside Buses said in a statement.

At SSM Health’s Sun Prairie Emergency Center, 11 patients — three adults and eight children — were treated for minor injuries that included scrapes, bruises and broken bones, said SSM Health spokesperson Kim Sveum.

All had been treated and released by Wednesday night.

Interstate passenger bus crash

A second crash on Interstate 39-90 Thursday afternoon between a semitrailer and a bus, this one a passenger van, left seven people injured, the State Patrol said.

The semitrailer rear-ended the Lamers bus around 1:30 p.m. in the northbound lanes a few miles south of the Interstate and Beltline interchange after the semitrailer couldn’t stop in time when traffic slowed, Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson said.

The semitrailer had to be towed from the scene, Sgt. Craig Morehouse said. The bus drove to a BP Gas station at 6410 Millpond Road to meet with emergency responders.

The seven injured passengers were taken to local hospitals, where their injuries did not appear life-threatening Johnson said.

The other passengers, who were traveling from Janesville to Mineral Point, were picked up by another Lamers bus, Morehouse said.

The passengers in the bus were all adults, Morehouse said.

State Journal reporters Shelley K. Mesch and Chris Aadland contributed to this report.

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