School bus involved in crash on Hwy. 478

Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies, Louisiana State Police, Natchitoches Regional Medical Center EMS, NPSO Rescue and Natchitoches Parish Fire District #5 Rescue responded to NATCOM 912 reports of a two-vehicle crash involving a school bus on March 13 around 3:25 pm on Hwy. 478 just west of Interstate-49 South of Natchitoches, according to Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Stuart Wright.
Deputies arrived on scene within minutes finding the sole occupant of a Mazda Tribute Compact SUV trapped in the wreckage suffering from injuries. Air EVAC medical chopper was dispatched to scene. A landing zone was set-up near I-49 and Hwy. 478.
Responding units determined at least 36 students and the bus operator were onboard the bus. The operator of the bus and students were assessed at the scene by EMS and released without transport. Natchitoches Parish Superintendent of Schools Dr Grant Eloi was notified.
According to LSP, a 2009 Mazda Tribute operated by a 48-year-old Flora man was traveling westbound on La Hwy 478 west of Interstate-49 when for reasons still under investigation drifted across the center-line striking almost head-on a eastbound 2019 Blue Bird School Bus. This action caused the school bus to leave the road on the left side, travel through a ditch, striking a couple of trees before coming to a rest. Motorists stopped to assist with the students.
It took rescue personnel over 20 minutes to extricate and free the Flora man from the wreckage. He was transported from the scene by Natchitoches Regional Medical Center EMS to the nearby landing zone, then airlifted by Life Air EVAC to a Regional Trauma Center with what is believed to be non-life threatening injuries. The name is currently being withheld pending an update on injury status.
As of 4:45pm, Troopers assigned to Louisiana State Police, Troop-E remained on scene interviewing witnesses and gathering information as the crash investigation remained ongoing and active.
Deputies remind motorists to always buckle up, wear your seat belts, don’t speed and never drive distracted or under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances.
All additional information will be released by Louisiana State Police, Troop-E Alexandria.