Pulaski superintendent: School in 'crisis response mode'

Thumbnail for Pulaski news conference on bus crash

PULASKI - It was a jarring start to the new school year in Pulaski.

"This is not the way you want to recall the first day of school,” said Pulaski Schools Superintendent Milt Thompson.

A crash at an intersection on highway 29 killed one person in a car, and injured several student athletes in a school bus.

"I don't personally recall the last time we had a major incident involving a school bus,” said Captain Thomas Tuma of the Shawano County Sheriff Department.

Pulaski's superintendent says his high school was in "crisis mode" today.

That's because at about nine o'clock Tuesday night one of its school buses traveling home from a volleyball match collided with a car.
The passenger in the car, 24-year-old Shannon Hall from Athens, died. The driver, 27-year-old Justin Cyzan of Marathon, is in the hospital with serious injuries.

Seventy-four-year-old James Muller of Green Bay was driving the bus. No citations have been issued.
The crash greatly affected Pulaski high school, because more than a dozen students were hurt.
What should have been a moment of victory for the Pulaski Girls volleyball team turned into a night of tragedy, as this car slammed into the back of the team's bus.

“If they were excited and it turned into that, that would be very heartbreaking and shocking,” said Kimberly Uelmen, the district’s communications director and the coach of the freshman volleyball squad. Her players were not on the bus when the crash happened.

Pulaski school district officials say they're trying to help students cope with the physical and emotional aftermath. Thirteen students were injured Tuesday. Six were taken to the hospital.
Superintendent Milt Thompson says he and counselors visited with those students overnight.

“It's really amazing to me how resilient kids are. There were students who were reassuring me that they were doing fine and you know that they would get through this,” said Thompson.

Those students have been released from the hospital, and have been excused from school.
But despite the situation, most of the volleyball team members who were on the bus were in class Wednesday. Counselors continued to meet with students.

Thompson says students aren't the only ones having difficulty dealing with the crash. The 74-year-old bus driver, a school district employee, is still in disbelief.

“He was broken up last night. You can imagine. He felt horrible about the accident,” said Thompson.

Debris from the vehicles involved in the crash Tuesday evening still litter the intersection here at St Augustine Drive. Accident reconstruction teams say it could take months to finish this investigation.

Thompson said law enforcement appreciated the school district's quick response to the crash, helping to notify parents and getting students home safely.

“Instead of being reactive to that situation, that when that situation happened we had a lot of people who knew what to do,” said Thompson.

As the investigation into the crash continues, school staff hopes students will be back on the road to normalcy soon.

Tomorrow's volleyball match against Manitowoc Lincoln has been postponed. Pulaski High School says it does not know when it will be rescheduled.

The crash investigation is in its early stages. But, here are the facts to this point.

We know the car was traveling west on Highway 29. The bus was trying to cross 29 after reaching the end of Highway 156.

Despite other reports, investigators say it's too early to say which driver is at fault.

"They will be working on their crash reconstruction. Currently we have the Wisconsin State Patrol working with us on the vehicle inspection on the bus and our officers are going to be conducting whatever interviews they deem appropriate with witnesses, passengers and so forth,” said Tuma.

Stay with FOX 11 News for updates on this developing story.