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Above: A bus of TF South Girls Track Team members was hit on its back, right side in a vehicle collision on Tuesday, April 5 at around 9 p.m. (Photo provided)

By Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (April 6, 2022) – The TF South Girls Track Team was minutes away from arriving at TF South when their bus was hit by another vehicle near the intersection of Torrence Avenue and Ridge Road Tuesday night, resulting in “minor injuries.”

The bus, which was one of two transporting the TFS team back from a track meet at Richards High School, was carrying 26 students, Assistant Coach Jasmine Gardner, and the driver.

The collision and response

At around 9 p.m., the full-size school bus was hit on its right, rear side by a passenger vehicle near the intersection of Torrence and Ridge. The parking lots of O’Reilly Auto Parts and Dollar Tree quickly became triage and staging areas for responding emergency vehicles.

According to a Lansing Fire Department press release, emergency response arrived on the scene four minutes after receiving the call. Some parents had already arrived on scene, and met with LFD.

“Scared and nervous”

TFS Girls Track Coach Elissa Belli had just arrived at TF South on the team’s other bus when she received news of the incident.

“I had to wait for the girls at the school to get picked up and then I headed over to the scene,” Belli said. “I was scared and nervous, just because there were so many emergency vehicles.”

Because of the number of individuals determined to need medical transportation, Lansing Fire elevated the response to a box alarm, and then a second alarm, meaning help from outside departments was needed.

“Ambulances from Lansing, Thornton, South Holland, Glenwood, Hazel Crest, and Tinley Park transported patients to area hospitals,” the LFD said.

“Minor injuries”

Eleven individuals were transported to hospitals with “minor injuries,” said Lansing Fire.

“I think they’re physically going to be ok, but it’s going to take days or weeks for a few of them to fully heal,” Belli said, who spent much of Wednesday checking in with parents.

Belli said she has reached out to the TFS Guidance Department to help the girls respond in a mentally healthy way to the incident: “I know a lot of the girls who weren’t injured were very scared with what happened, and very shaken up by the event, even if they weren’t physically injured.”

The Lansing Fire Department said the collision is under investigation by the Lansing Police Department. The department also thanked parents of the students involved for “their understanding and patience during the incident.”

Belli said she doesn’t think the minor injuries will have a large effect on the track season, but overall, she’s more interested in the well-being of her student athletes.

“It puts things in perspective. Sports are important, but we’re really relieved to know that everybody’s home safely,” Belli said.

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