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2 kids, 2 drivers die in Nebraska bus-truck crash

BLUE HILL, Neb. — A school bus and a tractor-trailer collided in rural southern Nebraska, killing two students and two drivers, the Nebraska State Patrol said Thursday.

At least five more children were transported to hospitals after the fiery crash at a rural intersection near Blue Hill around 5 p.m. Wednesday, the patrol said.

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The driver of the truck, 21-year-old Travis Witte of Blue Hill, and the driver of the bus, 59-year-old Marla Wentworth of Red Cloud, died in the crash. Two students also were killed: 18-year-old Dustin Tesdahl and 10-year-old Caroline Thallman, both students at Blue Hill Community Schools.

Two others, a 10-year old boy and an 8-year old girl, were admitted to a hospital in Hastings and were in stable condition. A 7-year old girl was flown to Children’s Hospital in Omaha, where she was in serious condition.

All of the injured students attend Blue Hill Community Schools as well. The district serves students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Authorities have released no details about how the crash occurred.

Witte’s mother, Penny Witte, said Thursday that he was hauling bales of hay for the family farm when the fatal incident happened.

‘‘He had a big heart,’’ she said.

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