1 person dead, no children seriously injured in Wadsworth school bus crash

April 5, 2013 (WADSWORTH, Ill.)

The crash happened about a mile from Newport Elementary School at the intersection of Route 173 and Kilbourne Road.

The Beach Park man who was killed in the crash, Philip Smith, was an entrepreneur who loved to fly. As he is being remembered, a young survivor is telling his story

There is a sense of relief that 10-year-old Lee Bass survived a crash that toppled his school bus.

"Some people were screaming, 'I'm bleeding,' and blood was dripping on the floor and some teeth were on the floor," he said.

An instant triage for 34 Newport Elementary students.

"I had the green card on my hand," Lee said. "It means that they checked me and you are going to be okay. Some people had yellow cards, they had minor injuries. If you had a red card that means you're seriously injured."

Investigators say the bus driver was headed westbound on Route 173 at Kilbourne when the bus collided with a Jeep Wrangler and rolled into a Jeep Cherokee. The kids escaped.

"The back door was already open and some people came to help us out," Lee said.

The 62-year-old driver of the Wrangler, Philip Smith of Beach Park, died. Two adults in the Cherokee were injured.

Neighbors say the bus driver, who lives in a Zion trailer park, enjoyed her job.

"We do not know who is at fault and it is still under investigation," said Lake County Sheriff Sgt. Sarah Ballmos.

Most of the children were back home Friday night.

"You walk in the hospital, and they're in the lobby waiting and playing," said Albert Moreno. "It's a great feeling."

At the Bass family home that rings so true.

"God is good and I feel blessed," said Arthur Bass Jr., Lee's dad.

"That's why my mom told me to say, 'I love you, bye,' to each of us every day because you never know what the outcome of the day would be for that person," said Arthur Bass III, Lee's brother. "It could have been the last time to see him and thank God it wasn't."

Smith had purchased the yellow Jeep, customized it for his wife and gave it to her for Christmas. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and a granddaughter.

Copyright © 2024 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.