Konawa Community Mourns After Deadly Bus Crash


Saturday, March 9th 2019, 10:26 pm



KONAWA – The Konawa community is heartbroken after losing one of their own in a deadly school bus crash.

A young girl and two adults died in the crash involving a bus and an SUV.

Saturday, community members placed flowers and keepsakes on the fence of the Konawa softball field.

Konawa district officials say a bus with six junior high softball athletes and their coach was headed home Friday night on Highway 377.

Investigators say the bus was hit by an SUV going the wrong direction just outside Bowlegs.

Both vehicles caught fire after the impact.

“The flames were so big you would have thought it was a semi or something. They were horrific,” witness Cindy Smith said.

Witnesses April Summers and Jeffery Rasmussen say they helped the girls off the bus.

“You couldn’t really see anything, but we were feeling around in the seats for people, doing whatever we could. I got to the front and I could actually see the smoke going through the back of the bus,” Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen commends the girls’ coach for his efforts to save and comfort them.

Despite all efforts, one girl did not survive the crash.

Law enforcement has yet to release the minor victim’s identity, but loved ones say her name was Rhindi.

“She was a sweetheart and I’m going to miss her,” friend Kristen Chambers said.

A vigil is planned Sunday night in Konawa.

According to the school district, funds will be set up for donations for the victim's family at Sooner State Bank and Bancfirst.

School has been cancelled Monday for the Konawa district, and administration confirms they are designing a support plan for students and staff.

Investigators tentatively identified John Tallbear as the now deceased driver of the SUV.

Authorities are seeking help identifying the deceased female SUV passenger.

Anyone with information on Tallbear's recent whereabouts is asked to contact Highway Patrol at 918-423-3636.

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