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updated: 4/8/2013 2:12 PM

Newport School getting back to normal after crash, principal says

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  • Officials take photos of the bus after it was set back onto its wheels Friday afternoon.

    Officials take photos of the bus after it was set back onto its wheels Friday afternoon.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer


Three days after a horrific bus crash injured more than 30 students and killed one person, the mood at Newport Elementary School was positive and upbeat, Principal John Coburn said Monday.

"We're getting back to normal." Coburn said. "We just thank God that the kids are fine."

Most of the 34 students who were on the bus when it collided with two other vehicles and overturned Friday morning were on the Wadsworth-area campus Monday, Coburn said.

"There are still a few who are home nursing bumps and bruises," he said.

Social workers were on hand to talk with kids about the accidents, which police said remained under investigation Monday. Specially trained dogs were brought in, too.

Students were able to spend time with the dogs before talking with social workers as a way to prepare for the discussions, Coburn said.

"It's just a comforting feeling for the children," he said.

Newport serves kindergartners through fifth-graders, and students from an array of classes were involved in the crash, officials said.

Some teachers visited students after the crash. Some kids were greeted with gifts of chocolate Monday morning, Coburn said.

"They've been very supportive," he said of the teachers.

Police brought backpacks and other belongings that were left on the bus to the school Monday morning. Administrators will call parents and ask how they should be returned, Coburn said.

Getting those items back could help the kids' emotional recovery, Beach Park School District 3 Superintendent Robert DiVirgilio said.

The bus collided with a Jeep Wrangler and a Jeep Cherokee on Friday at Route 173 and Kilbourne Road in Newport Township.

The driver of the Wrangler, 62-year-old Philip Smith of Beach Park, was killed. An autopsy revealed he died of multiple injuries, the Lake County coroner's office said.

Toxicology results are pending, Chief Deputy Coroner Orlando Portillo said.

The kids were treated at hospitals in Lake County, Chicago and southern Wisconsin for minor injuries. All have been released, Coburn said.

No tickets have been issued. Lake County sheriff's police plan to re-interview witnesses, sheriff's Chief Wayne Hunter said.

The bus was equipped with a camera designed to observe students during travel, sheriff's police said. Investigators are seeking a warrant to review any footage from the crash.

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