At least 12 children and four adults were injured when a bus full of Berkeley summer campers rear-ended a Nissan van on westbound Interstate 80 on Monday morning, causing a “chain reaction collision,” the California Highway Patrol has reported.
The accident took place at approximately 10 a.m. on I-80 near Ashby Avenue. Officers who responded to the scene found a yellow school bus with approximately 50 children on board, ages 5-15, according to the CHP, along with five other involved vehicles.
Oakland CHP spokesman Officer Sean Wilkenfeld said all of the injuries appeared to be minor. The Berkeley Fire Department responded to the scene to treat the children, he said.
One parent identified the children on board as attendees of Camp Kee Tov, run by Congregation Beth El in North Berkeley. The campers were heading for Middle Harbor Park in Oakland for a field trip, the CHP reported.
According to the CHP, paramedics treated at least 12 children for minor injuries, and some of the children were taken to the hospital for further evaluation and treatment. Four adults on the bus were taken to Alta Bates hospital for minor injuries, and the drivers of two other involved vehicles were also transported for minor injuries.
Two lanes of the highway were closed for about an hour to allow officers to conduct their investigation, and to tow the damaged vehicles out of the roadway. CHP officers will inspect the bus to ensure that no mechanical failures contributed to the collision.
A parent of one of the students on the bus told Berkeleyside that the youth were attendees of Camp Kee Tov in Berkeley, which is run by Congregation Beth El on Oxford Street. One counselor hit a windshield as a result of the crash. (The children on the bus were part of the Giborim group of mostly 8- and 9-year-olds, she said.)
Emily Schnitzer, camp administrator, said the bus was heading for a field trip when the accident happened. She said she would try to provide additional information to Berkeleyside after making sure parents knew about the accident.
According to the CHP online dispatch logs, which are preliminary, a counselor on the bus reported to the CHP that several of the students had bloody noses as a result of the crash, and one counselor reportedly received cuts on the face.
The Berkeley Fire Department took four of the youth to Children’s Hospital in Oakland at 10:42 a.m.
Officers were still on the scene as of 12:30 p.m.
During the accident, traffic on the freeway backed up to Central Avenue in Richmond. All lanes on Interstate 80 had been reopened by about 11:35 a.m., according to the CHP.
Authorities cleared the parking lot near the Seabreeze Market on University Avenue and West Frontage Road in Berkeley to create a meeting point for parents picking up their children.
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Due to the developing nature of this story, it was updated as additional information became available.