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Early morning crash caused by driving while tired; officials say it could have been worse

cole bus crash damage
KMIZ
Damage from a bus crash in Cole County on Thursday, July 14, 2022.
Tour bus crash in Cole County 7-14-2022
KMIZ
A tour bus crashed into a home near Eugene, Missouri, on Thursday, July 14, 2022. Emergency crews said 14 people were treated for minor to moderate injuries.

COLE COUNTY, Mo. (KMIZ)

The early morning bus crash off Highway 54 on Thursday happened when a bus driver fell asleep behind the wheel. Officials who responded to the crash say the group was very lucky it wasn't worse.

Everyone injured in a Thursday morning bus crash in Cole County has been released from the hospital with minor to moderate injuries, a spokesman for the church whose members were on the bus said.

Six adults and 22 children from the Immanuel Lutheran School in Honey Creek were riding back from the National Youth Gathering in Houston when the bus crashed at about 2:30 a.m., Tyler Kopp wrote in an email. Of the 28 people on board, 14 were checked at the crash site for injuries and the other 14 were taken to hospitals to be examined, he said.

"Driving while tired is a problem, especially for people who are driving long distances, they have a tendency to not realize how tired they're getting over that long trip," said Kyle Green with Highway Patrol Troop F.

According to the CDC, one in 25 adults has fallen asleep while driving. Although the problem is common, it's very dangerous. A report from the U.S. Department of Transportation shows 633 deaths occurred nationwide as a result of driving while tired in 2020.

"People don't really think of fatigue as a big threat to them while they're driving, but it is just as dangerous as drinking and driving or texting and driving," Cole County EMS Chief Eric Hoy said.

The tour bus hit a house, a shed, and a fence after going across the westbound lanes of Highway 54, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol crash report. The age of the people injured ranged from 15 to 56 years old.

The church praised God for the crash not being worse.

"A couple feet either way and we could have had a much different outcome," Hoy said.

The crash happened on eastbound Highway 54 near Farm View Road just after 2:35 a.m., according to the highway patrol. Troopers said the bus driven by Thomas A. Babbitt, 62, of Boonville, traveled off the highway after he fell asleep.

A 15-year-old passenger told ABC 17 News the bus missed hitting several trees and a propane tank.

ABC 17 News will update this story and our newscasts once more details are released.

Article Topic Follows: News
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Zachary Farwell

Zachary Farwell is the assignment editor and former senior producer at ABC 17 News.

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.

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