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School bus driver back on job after crash

Published: Thursday, April 3, 2014 5:58 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, April 4, 2014 12:11 p.m. CDT
A Leaf River firefighter watches as rescue personnel respond to an accident involving a Forrestville Valley school bus and a pick-up truck. The accident occurred in the 11,000 block of Pecatonica Road, northeast of Leaf River. Photo by Vinde Wells

The Forrestville Valley school bus driver involved in a crash with a pick-up truck almost two weeks ago was back behind the wheel on Monday.

Forreston Junior and Senior High School Principal Michael Mandzen said Marsha Birkholz drove her usual bus route March 31 when school resumed after spring break.

"She's in good spirits, and I think it was important for her to be back in that seat on Monday," Mandzen said.

Birkholz, 64, Forreston, was one of four persons taken to the hospital March 21 after a pick-up truck hit the school bus head-on on North Pecatonica Road.

School had dismissed early that day for spring break.

The bus was stopped in the southbound lane to let a rider off at 11461 N. Pecatonica Rd. when it was struck in the front by a northbound pick-up truck, driven by Timothy Hilton, 28, Pecatonica.

Mandzen said Ogle County Sheriff's Police at the scene told him that the impact moved the bus 10 to 15 feet backwards.

Two of the six students on the bus, an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old, along with Birkholz and Hilton were taken to area hospitals by ambulance.

Hilton suffered serious injuries.

Ogle County Sheriff Michael Harn said Tuesday that no tickets have been issued as yet.

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