School bus crash witness: 'I almost wanted to cry'

Caller reports semitruck 'drifting' into bus

LODI, Wis. - Callers to the Columbia County 911 center reported a semitruck  driver "driving spastic" and "drifting" into a school bus Wednesday morning on Interstate 39 in Columbia County. 

Calls released to News 3 Friday showed multiple callers who reported the crash to dispatchers, and at least two witnesses who saw the semitruck  hit the bus which was headed to Wisconsin Dells from a private school in Milwaukee.

Twenty people were injured in the crash and two remain hospitalized, including one in critical condition. 

Wayne Murphy, 42, of Indianapolis, is in the Columbia County Jail on tentative operating charges of while intoxicated causing injury and five counts of causing great bodily harm. 

"I saw the truck way before it hit the bus and he was driving spastic clear off the road and back on," Robert Saley told a Columbia County 911 dispatcher. "I couldn't believe when there was only one bus sitting alongside the road that this semi smashed into it."

Saley told News 3 in an interview Friday that he was following the semitruck Wednesday morning and saw it leave the road twice before hitting the bus.

"When I saw the hit happen, five seconds later I felt like in shock. I almost wanted to cry," he said. "I thought instantly, 'oh my God, if there's a bus full of kids, there's gonna be fatalities there.' That's how it looked."

It was a relief when he heard no one died.

"So, thank God, you know," Sale said.

Holly O'Connell told a dispatcher she and her husband saw the crash as well. 

"My husband said that the semi drifted into [the bus]," O'Connell said in a 911 call.  

On 911 caller told the dispatcher the damage looked, "bad, really bad. It took out the back and half of the side of the bus."

In another 911 recording, a caller who said she was with the bus told the dispatcher, "we were parked and another car hit us. We have like 28 kids with us, and a lot of them are injured."

Murphy has not yet made an appearance in court on the tentative charges. 

Never miss another story. Sign up here for email newsletters and have local news delivered right to you every day. It’s quick and free to sign up.

Local And Regional News

Photo Galleries

This Week's Circulars

E-News Registration