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Area school bus involved in serious car crash Monday night

A Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School District bus was involved in a vehicle crash Monday evening, and a girl who was not on the bus was seriously injured in the accident.

James E. Ryan, 69, of Walker, was driving the school bus north on state Highway 371 with one teacher and 11 students on board, according to the Minnesota State Patrol out of Brainerd.

Shortly after 6 p.m., Carol J. Schwarzkopf, 64, of Baxter, driving a 1998 Pontiac Bonneville east on Crow Wing County Road 48 in Baxter, went through a red light at the intersection with Highway 371, the State Patrol reported.

The school bus struck the right rear of the Bonneville, which spun around and struck a stopped 1997 Ford Expedition driven by Becky S. Smith, 38, of Baxter, which was stopped at the red light to head west on County Road 48, the State Patrol reported.

Schwarzkopf suffered facial cuts in the crash while a passenger in her vehicle, 7-year-old Madeline A. Gibbons of Brainerd suffered a a serious injury, the State Patrol reported. Schwarzkopf was taken to St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd and the child was taken to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, Minn.; she is in critical condition.

Neither Ryan nor Smith was injured.

Wally Schoeb, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley superintendent, told the Brainerd Dispatch that three of the high school students on the bus suffered minor injuries in the crash.

Injuries suffered by the students on the bus included a bruised eye, bruised shoulder and a bruised back, the Dispatch reported. The three students were treated at the scene by emergency personnel and were able to return to Walker on the bus with their classmates Monday night.

The students, along with their families and consumer science teacher Rita Berry, were returning to Walker from a cooking show in the Twin Cities area, the Dispatch reported.