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Article updated: 5/9/2013 4:10 PM

Police: Jeep struck school bus in fatal crash

By Bob Susnjara

Results from a Lake County sheriff's office investigation into last month's school bus crash near Wadsworth show a Jeep Wrangler crashed into the bus.

The Jeep's driver, Philip Smith, 62, of Beach Park, died in the crash and more than 30 children were injured.

Authorities announced April 30 that no one would be officially blamed for the wreck. They cited conflicting statements from witnesses regarding the color of the traffic signal at Route 173 and Kilbourne Road in unincorporated Newport Township.

Sheriff's police Sgt. Sara Balmes said Thursday investigators concluded Smith drove into the bus' rear right wheel well. She said the bus was westbound on Route 173 and mostly through the intersection when the collision occurred. The Wrangler was headed south on Kilbourne.

"We're not placing any blame on anybody because we don't know who had the right of way," Balmes said.

Sheriff's officials have said the crash investigation is closed.

Authorities said the bus was carrying 34 students to Newport Elementary School in Beach Park. Police said the bus flipped after colliding with the Wrangler and rolled into a Jeep Cherokee that had been traveling east on Route 173.

Most students were treated for minor injuries and released, but one did suffer a skull fracture, officials said. The bus driver and Cherokee's driver and passenger also suffered minor injuries.

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