PAULDING - A school bus transporting members of the Defiance Junior High wrestling team and their two coaches was involved in a crash Saturday in which the driver of the vehicle that hit the bus was seriously injured, the Ohio Highway Patrol said.
The crash occurred about 7:40 a.m. on State Rt. 637 at County Road 138 in Paulding County's Jackson Township.
The school bus was southbound on State Rt. 637 when it was struck on the right side by a vehicle driven by Jan Werfal, 50, of Payne, Ohio, who was eastbound on the county road and failed to stop at a stop sign, according to troopers at the Defiance post.
Mrs. Werfal was flown to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne, where she was listed in critical condition, troopers said. A passenger in Mrs. Werfal's vehicle, Jonathon Steingass, 21, of Paulding, was treated at Paulding Hospital. Keith Ashbacher, 55, of Defiance, who was driving the bus, was treated for minor injuries at Defiance Regional Hospital. A passenger, coach Matthew Dietrich, 36, of Napoleon, was taken to Paulding Hospital, where he was treated after being thrown from the bus.
The second coach and all 26 members of the team were treated at the scene.
The bus was damaged severely on the front right side. The Werfal vehicle was heavily damaged on the left front and side. Mrs. Werfal and her passenger were wearing seat belts. School buses are not equipped with seat belts for passengers behind the driver.
The wrestling team was taken to Rose Hill Church of God near Paulding to keep warm and never arrived at the tournament. The crash remains under investigation and charges are pending.