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STREATOR - The driver of a car that collided with a Pontiac Township High School bus Wednesday night died, but his identity was withheld on Thursday.

LaSalle County Coroner Jody Bernard said the man was pronounced dead at St. Mary's Hospital, Streator, a few minutes after being taken from the scene of the accident. His name was being withheld until Bernard could contact the man's son.

The passengers on the bus, which was carrying the school's girls' basketball team to a playoff game in Streator, were treated at St. Mary's and released, state police at Pontiac said. They were picked up and taken to the hospital by the bus carrying the Prairie Central High School team they were supposed to play.

The crash happened shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday on Illinois 23 about eight miles southeast of Streator, police said.

The preliminary investigation shows the man was driving south on the two-lane highway when his car veered into the path of the northbound bus driven by Steve Atkinson.

There were 20 passengers in the bus at the time. Twelve students were treated for injuries and released.

The Class AA regional semifinal game with Pontiac and Fairbury-based Prairie Central was postponed to Thursday night.

"This has been extremely stressful," Pontiac Township High School Superintendent Harlen "Butch" Cotter said Thursday.

Cotter and passengers praised Atkinson's driving skills for keeping the bus on the road until stopping.

Authorities released few details Thursday. Police did say there was no apparent reason for the car to cross the center line.

An autopsy was conducted Thursday, but toxicology test results will not be available for at least two months, the coroner said.


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