A school bus crash that killed two 3-year-olds heading home from their Head Start preschool class in Northern Kentucky remained under investigation Tuesday, state police said.
The crash Monday afternoon in Carrollton killed schoolmates Ryder Deitz and Caroline Tuttle, both of Carrollton, said Trooper Bradley Arterburn.
The youngsters were among nine preschoolers on the Carroll County school bus that was traveling a narrow country road when it overturned and smashed into a tree, crushing its roof.
"Words cannot describe the grief that our families and staff are experiencing," Superintendent Lisa James said in a statement on the district's Web site.
A bus driver and an aide were also on the bus. Arterburn said the driver escaped unharmed but the aide was hospitalized with unknown injuries.
Officials said five children remained hospitalized Tuesday.
Four were at Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, said Chief Nursing Officer Cis Gruebbel. Three — two 3-year-old boys and a 4-year-old girl — were in stable condition in intensive care with skull fractures and the fourth, a 3-year-old boy, was expected to be discharged Tuesday, she said.
The children "all have family with them," Gruebbel said.
A child flown to the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital in Lexington was listed in critical condition, hospital spokeswoman Julie Phillips said.
Arterburn said the bus was traveling along a narrow country lane in Carrollton about 4:30 p.m. when it flipped on its side and hit the tree. He said investigators were examining the bus for mechanical issues that could have contributed to the crash.
The children were all wearing seat belts, Arterburn said in a news release.
The students were enrolled in the Carroll County Child Development Center, which operates Head Start and early Head Start programs for children ages 3 and 4. The two programs were not in session Tuesday, according to the district Web site.
Counselors were to be available at all district schools Tuesday.
Carroll County was also the site of a school bus crash in 1988 that killed 24 children and three adults.
That bus was being used for a church activity and was returning after a day at an amusement park when it was hit head-on by a drunken driver going the wrong way on Interstate 71. It remains the nation's deadliest drunken-driving collision.