CARROLLTON — State police said two pre-kindergarten children were pronounced dead at the scene of an overturned school bus on a narrow country road in Northern Kentucky, immediately invoking images of a deadly bus crash in Carroll County in 1988.
Trooper Brad Arterburn, spokesman for Kentucky State Police Post 5, said the bus carrying nine children from the Head Start pre-school program on Monday flipped onto its side and struck a tree.
He said four children were taken to hospitals and three were released to their parents.
The driver of the bus escaped unharmed. He said an adult aide also on the bus was also transported to the hospital, but he was unsure which one.
He also said he could not speak to the severity of the survivors' injuries.
Identities of those involved in the wreck were not released Monday night.
Amy Jones, a spokeswoman for the University of Kentucky, said one or two pediatric patients were expected at UK Chandler Hospital in Lexington, but she had no further details Monday night.
Kosair Children's Hospital chief nursing officer Cis Gruebbel said three children — ages 3, 4 and 5 — were brought to the Louisville hospital. She said they had broken bones and head injuries, and at least two will be treated in the critical care unit.
Police were not sure what caused the bus to leave the road. Arterburn said toxicology tests were performed on the bus driver as "standard procedure," but drugs and alcohol were not suspected.
The bus was shorter than a standard-size school bus. It was equipped with seat belts, but he did not know if any children were wearing them.
The wreck happened about 4:30 p.m. on Boone Road, a narrow road with no center line, outside of Carrollton between Interstate 71 and the Ohio River.
Carrollton is about 70 miles northwest of Lexington and about halfway between Louisville and Cincinnati.
The wreck brought back images of the deadliest drunk driving crash in history, which occurred in Carroll County in 1988. A pickup truck going the wrong way on I-71 hit a church bus head on, rupturing the gas tank and causing a fire that killed 24 young people and three adults.
The church group from Radcliff was returning after a day at Kings Island amusement park outside Cincinnati when it was hit.
Collision reconstruction specialists were on scene of Monday's wreck and would continue investigating Tuesday morning, Arterburn said.
Herald-Leader staff writer Josh Kegley and The Associated Press contributed to this report.