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Eight injured when school van, semi crash in western Minn.

HOLLOWAY, Minn. – At least two Hancock students were airlifted to hospitals in the Twin Cities after a crash Monday afternoon, March 12, between a Hancock Public School transport van and a semi in far west-central Minnesota..

Swift County Sheriff John Holtz said during a news conference late Monday that “as of right now, there are no fatalities.”

The school van driver and seven children in the van were all transported from the scene about 12 miles south of Hancock to either Appleton Area Health Services or Swift County-Benson Hospital, Holtz said, and two or three were then airlifted by Life Link to metro hospitals. He did not have information on the condition of any of the injured.

The semi driver was evaluated at the scene but had no apparent injuries.

Holtz said names would be released Tuesday morning.

Hancock Public School Superintendent Loren Hacker said Monday evening that the van’s driver was in the hospital in Benson. He did not know the status of the injuries to the students.

“Right now we’re just praying for all the kids. Praying that the injuries will heal and that they receive great care,” Hacker said. The students’ ages were 8 to 16.

The crash was reported at 3:42 p.m. Monday north of Holloway or about 50 miles west of Willmar. Hacker said the van was on its regular school transport route.

Holtz said it was a T-bone-style crash at the intersection of two county roads. The van was southbound on a gravel road when it entered the intersection, and the semi, pulling an empty grain trailer eastbound on a paved road, struck the van on the passenger side.

The semi ended up jackknifed in the ditch, and the van remained upright in the road, several yards from the intersection.

“It’s very traumatic,” Holtz said. “ … It’s a horrific crash.”

The Hancock High School boys basketball team played Monday night in a Section 6A game in Moorhead. Some fans and head boys coach Cory Bedel were aware of the crash before the start of the 7:45 p.m. game.

Bedel said the crash “was pretty serious.”

The Sheriff’s Office in a news release said it paged Appleton Ambulance and Fire, Benson Ambulance and Fire, Stevens County Medical Ambulances, Danvers First Responders and Fire, and Holloway First Responders. Minnesota State Patrol, Benson and Appleton police departments also responded. Life Link helicopter air ambulances also responded to the scene.

The Sheriff’s Office, with the assistance of the State Patrol, is conducting a crash reconstruction.

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