Rig Slams Into Bus in N.C.; Child Dies

MAXTON, N.C. (AP) _ A tractor-trailer slammed into a stopped school bus Tuesday, killing a 5-year-old girl who was getting on and injuring the girl's mother and more than a dozen other pupils, officials said.

About 20 to 25 children were aboard the bus, which was bound for Townsend Middle School and R.B. Dean Elementary School, said Henry Byrd, assistant superintendent of Robeson County schools.

Exact details of the accident weren't immediately clear. Investigators for the state Highway Patrol and Robeson County Sheriff's Department were at the scene.

The girl's mother was severely injured and was in critical condition, said Highway Patrol Sgt. Joel Siles. About 15 children suffered minor injuries and were taken to hospitals for treatment, and the truck driver also was taken to a hospital.

Charges were pending against the driver of the truck, which was hauling chickens and registered to Mountaire Farms Inc. of Selbyville, Del., Highway Patrol 1st Sgt. Everett Clendenin said. The spokesman said a trooper at the scene ``said the truck hit the bus square in the back.''

The crash happened shortly after 7 a.m. on a two-lane highway about 1 1/2 miles north of Maxton, which is in southeastern North Carolina near the South Carolina line.

The force of the crash propelled the bus about 200 feet and into the yards of nearby houses.

``It's a tragic event,'' said schools Superintendent Colin Armstrong.