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Eight students to hospital after school bus crash

DASSEL -- Eight students were transported to hospitals in Litchfield and Hutchinson after their school bus collided with a pickup early Friday morning on State Highway 15.

According to reports from the Meeker County Sheriff's office and the State Patrol, the Dassel-Cokato School Bus Company notified law enforcement of the crash around 7:33 a.m. this morning. The crash happened at the intersection of Highway 15 and County Road 21, just south of Kingston. The Dassel-Cokato students suffered non-life threatening injuries, according to Meeker County Sheriff Jeff Norlin. There were 17 students on the bus at the time of the crash.

The 2003 school bus was driven by John A. Rokala, 78, of Dassel, and was eastbound on County Road 21 when it collided with a 2004 Chevy Silverado pickup driven by Daniel Schneider, 28, of Kimball, which was southbound on Highway 15. The pickup struck the rear driver's side of the bus. Schneider sustained non-life threatening injuries. Rokala's injury status was not noted by the State Patrol. The weather conditions at the time of the crash included dense fog, with visibility of less than 200 feet.

The State Patrol, with assistance from the Sheriff's office, is investigating the crash. Also responding were personnel from the Dassel Fire and Rescue squads, Watkins and Cokato ambulances and Gold Cross Ambulance.