Four other victims were taken with minor injuries to St. Clare Health Center in Fenton, Mo., a spokeswoman said.
Wilson, the patrol officer, said the driver of the first bus moved into the passing lane to give a distressed vehicle in the shoulder more room. She was checking her rearview mirror while returning to the right-hand lane when she noticed the first impact but could not stop in time, hitting the pickup. The second bus then rear-ended the first, vaulting the first bus onto the top of the pickup, which was crushed.
The buses were segregated by gender, with girls in the first and boys on the other, he said.
The pickup was barely recognizable in the tangled wreckage. Crews used a crane to lift the buses off of the crushed wreckage to clear the freeway, which was closed going eastbound for hours, backing up traffic for miles.
Authorities said it was too soon to say if any of the drivers would face charges.
A spokeswoman for the National Transportation Safety Board said a team of 14 investigators will look into the accident and try to determine if there’s a broader safety issue.
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