WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Parents of students at Wichita's Park Elementary School expressed concern Wednesday, saying they learned about a crash involving their children's Topeka-bound bus on the news or on social media.
The bus, carrying more than 30 fifth-grade students Wednesday morning on a field trip to the state capital, slid off the road and overturned on the side of the Kansas Turnpike, about 15 miles south of Emporia.
The Kansas Highway Patrol says 17 children were taken from the scene to Newman Regional Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. More patients were identified at Emporia High School after they were taken from the bus. In all, the Lyon County Sheriff's Office says 26 people were treated.
Back in Wichita, several upset parents frantically sought answers, unsure if their children were okay after hearing initial reports of the crash. They say the school and the Wichita school district didn't provide much information.
"It's devastating, you know," Park Elementary parent Julius Cato says of not knowing if his son was alright after the crash. "...He's my son and I'm worried about him."
Scrambling for news about what happened and how their children were doing, parents rushed to the school Wednesday morning.
"It was horrific because we didn't receive a call," another frustrated parent says. We didn't receive no call. We didn't receive no message, no nothing. I found out through Facebook and the news."
Cato says his wife did receive a text message, but he didn't.
"And I was sitting down for lunch and I just heard it on the news," he says.
Cato eventually learned his son will be okay.
"Just minor injuries, minor injuries. But it's just the thought of him not being here with me, you know. "And I haven't got work on what the injury is yet."
Some parents say they had worries about the bus driving in the winter weather. One parent says he even contacted his child's teacher Tuesday night, telling her he was concerned about the field trip.
"I think they should've canceled it, they should've canceled it," Cato says. "And I think they know they should've canceled it. But you know, my son wanted to go and I started to not let him go, but he just wanted to go."
After the crash, students who weren't injured were taken to Emporia High School, then transported back to Wichita. Those injured received treatment at an Emporia hospital.
Some parents decided to pick up their children in Emporia rather than wait on another bus to bring them home.
"He doesn't want to get on the bus anymore, he's scared. So, we're going to pick him up," one parent said Wednesday afternoon.