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Child killed in Idaho school bus accident, 4 more hurt

By Laura Zuckerman

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - An 11-year-old boy was killed and four more children injured on Thursday when a bus carrying elementary school students in Idaho collided with a dump truck at a rural intersection, state police said.

The school bus was transporting 12 students, all sixth grade or younger and none wearing seat belts, to an elementary school, when the crash occurred at around 8 a.m. on a country road southwest of Boise.

The boy, identified as Daniel Cook of Kuna, Idaho, died from blunt force trauma, said Canyon County Coroner Vicki DeGeus-Morris.

Idaho state police spokeswoman Teresa Baker said there was a stop sign at the corner of the road the school bus was using, but not on the one where the dump truck was traveling.

A special crash unit was at the scene reconstructing the accident to determine if the bus stopped at the intersection, as required, and to look into the speed of the vehicles involved, Baker said. Neither driver had been cited by early Thursday afternoon.

The injured children were taken to hospitals in the Boise area, Baker said. The drivers of the bus and dump truck were distraught but unhurt, she said, and the truck driver was aiding injured children when emergency responders arrived.

The bus, which was carrying the children to Crimson Point Elementary School in Kuna, was not equipped with seat belts, school district officials said.

Like many other U.S. states, Idaho does not require elementary students on school buses to wear seat belts, and the crash shines a spotlight on the debate over whether the safety devices should be mandatory.

California, New York, Texas and New Jersey are among a handful of states that require safety restraints on new school buses. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not moved to require them.

Opponents argue that children being transported to school on buses are better protected by highly padded seats and other forms of internal design elements.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its website that 102 persons - adults and children - had been killed in school bus crashes from 2001 to 2010.

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman; Writing and additional reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Cynthia Osterman, Steve Orlofsky and Gunna Dickson)

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