STREATOR — The LaSalle County coroner Thursday night was awaiting a call from the son of a man killed Wednesday night when his car slammed into a bus taking girl athletes to a tournament, causing minor injuries to a dozen passengers.
The man will not be identified until the son calls back, said Coroner Jody Bernard.
The accident happened in Livingston County halfway between Streator and Pontiac on Illinois 23. Preliminary investigation shows the man was southbound on the two-lane highway when his car veered into the path of the bus driven by Steve Atkinson.
Atkinson was transporting members of the Pontiac High School girl’s basketball team and their coaches.
The unidentified driver of the car was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital in Streator, where he was pronounced dead. The LaSalle County coroner’s office is handling the accident since he died in that county.
There were 20 passengers in the bus at the time. Twelve students were treated for injuries and released. They were taken to St. Mary’s by a Prairie Central High School bus that stopped to help. Prairie Central of Fairbury was to play Pontiac in Streator Wednesday night. That Class AA regional semi-final game was postponed until Thursday night.
"This has been extremely stressful," said Supt. Harlen "Butch" Cotter Thursday. "But our ladies will be there tonight and ready to play."
Cotter and passengers attributed the driving skills of Atkinson for keeping the bus on the road until it could be brought to a stop.
By Thursday night state police in Pontiac had issued only a one paragraph press release on the accident. Authorities did not want to go beyond that except to say there was no apparent reason for the car going into the bus lane. The night was clear and dry.
An autopsy was conducted Thursday though the state-required toxicology samples will not be available for at least two months.