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Four children killed when U.S. tour bus crashes in Canada

At least four were killed after a tour bus carrying middle-school students on a band trip crashed near Sussex, New Brunswick, on Friday  

SUSSEX, New Brunswick (CNN) -- A tour bus that crashed here Friday, killing four middle school band members, was apparently on the wrong exit when it flipped over shortly before dawn, police said.

Sgt. David Brown of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the bus, carrying 42 students and five chaperones from Oak Hill Middle School in Newton, Massachusetts, had missed the eastbound exit to Halifax, where the students were to perform at a school.

Brown said the driver was taking the next exit, a sharp turn onto the westbound Trans Canada Highway, when he lost control and the bus overturned shortly after 5 a.m. (4 a.m. ET). The driver was hospitalized, Brown said.

Weather was not a factor in the crash, Brown said, but mechanical problems, driver error, and speed could have contributed.

Patricia Crowdis, spokeswoman for St. John Regional Hospital, said 37 people were injured, 11 of them with significant injuries. Three students and one adult were admitted with fractures, she said, and the rest were released.

Oak Hill Principal Marvin Shapiro said the students were traveling to Halifax to play for a middle school whose band had visited them last year, and to play in a band festival over the weekend.

The four killed were students from the seventh and eighth grades, said Newton Public School Superintendent Jeffrey Young. He identified them as eighth-grader Mellissa Leung and seventh-graders Kayla Rosenberg, Greg Chan and Stephen Glidden.

They were all ejected from the bus, said Brown.

Crowdis said authorities initially believed a fifth person had been killed because the student was pinned underneath the overturned bus and had serious injuries.

Shapiro said one of the chaperones told him most of the passengers were asleep when the accident occurred.

"This is a tragedy," Shapiro told WBZ-AM in Boston. "We just have to pull ourselves together and be supportive of the kids."

Shapiro said there were two bus drivers and that they had switched along the way. The second bus driver was at the wheel when the bus crashed, he said, and was one of the more seriously injured.

The school booked the trip through Crystal Transportation in Boston, which subcontracted Kristine Travel Tour company. The drivers were provided by Kristine.

The bus was most recently inspected in February, and had no history of trouble.

At the accident scene, investigators combed through sheet music and debris littering the side of the roadway. The left side of the bus, which had flipped over completely before landing on the driver's side, was smeared with mud and grass, with windows and luggage compartment doors missing or smashed.

Brown said each of the 47 children and adults had been interviewed, and the investigation was continuing with the weighing and mechanical inspection of the bus.

Counselors, teachers, and clergy members were providing support for the school community both at home and in Canada. Many parents flew from Boston to St. John Friday afternoon, some courtesy of commercial airlines or private pilots.

The St. John hospital was creating an area for families to reunite and be counseled, said Dr. James O'Brien, chief of staff for the hospital. Young said the school would be open through the weekend and staffed with crisis counselors.

"Kids react in different ways," Shapiro said. "Some are very sad and crying, others are shocked. It runs the entire gamut."

Young said counselors sought out the families of the four students to inform them of their children's deaths. One of the parents was a chaperone on the bus, and another was at the school when told of their child's death. Young said they were "devastated."

CNN Producer Fran Fifis contributed to this report

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Newton Public Schools

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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