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October 27, 2002

Coach killed when Kansas School for the Deaf bus crashes

From: Kansas City Star, MO
Oct. 27, 2002

The Kansas City Star

A bus carrying the Kansas School for the Deaf football team and cheerleaders overturned on a rain-soaked western Kansas highway Sunday, killing a coach and injuring several others on the bus.

Bob Maile, superintendent of the 150-student school in Olathe, said Lory Kuschmider, an assistant coach and dorm supervisor, was fatally injured in the accident.

The Kansas Highway Patrol said four passengers were taken by life flight to a Wichita hospital: head football coach Kevin Milner, 41, of Olathe; Tana Kolb, 15, of Wichita; Kelly Birch, 14, of Wetmore, Kan., and Michelle Muszynski, 14, of Olathe. Wallace County Sheriff Larry Townsend said the four were in serious but stable condition.

Driver Ronald R. Zimmerman, 60, of Raytown, was taken to Hays Medical Center, the patrol said.

The patrol said four passengers were taken to Logan County Hospital in Oakley, Kan.: Kyle Kuschmider, 14, of Olathe; Greg Carlson, 14, of Hillsboro, Kan.; Anthony Singleterry, 17, of Wichita; and Richard Edwards, 14, of Lawrence.

The accident occurred at 11:30 a.m. on U.S. 40, one mile east of Wallace, Kan. The 34 players, coaches and cheerleaders were returning from a game Saturday afternoon against the Colorado School for the Deaf in Colorado Springs, Townsend said.

Townsend said the bus, chartered from Sunset Tours Co. in Independence, slid off U.S. 40 as it tried to negotiate a gentle curve. The bus slid down the side of a grassy embankment, flipped once and landed on its top at the bottom of a ravine about 25 feet from the road, Townsend said.

``There was not a piece of glass left in that bus,'' Townsend said. ``When I got to the scene, there were kids everywhere lying around, injured: They were all very upset.''

Eight ambulances were dispatched to the scene.

Twelve passengers were treated and released at a hospital in Colby, Kan., and went to join their teammates at Logan Hospital, said Jay Plank, hospital administrator at Logan.

The Red Cross and Logan County Emergency Response set up a shelter in the basement of Oakley's courthouse Sunday, as concerned parents began to trickle in from across the state. A bus was being sent for the team. ``Most of the kids want to go back on the bus with their teammates, together,'' said Plank. ``But many parents are arriving and have indicated that they will take their kids back.'' The Kansas State School for the Deaf was founded in December 1861 and is now based in Olathe. It is the oldest state educational institution in Kansas, the school says. It has programs serving students from early childhood through high school.

Maile said late Sunday that many students and families already had been told about the accident.

``I'm sure it will be a shock,'' Maile said. ``Like any real small school, it's a school where everyone knows everyone. It's very much like a family.''

Maile said the school would hold an assembly Monday morning and would provide counseling services for students.

``It always helps to get together at a time like this, and that's what we'll help facilitate,'' Maile said.

Copyright 2002 Knight Ridder.