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Cleburne County wreck involving school bus kills 1

By Rachel Hook

This article was originally published March 7, 2014 at 10:34 a.m. Updated March 7, 2014 at 1:46 p.m.

A Friday morning wreck involving a van and a Quitman school bus on a Cleburne County state highway ended with a woman's death, according to an Arkansas State Police preliminary crash report.

The school bus was at a stop on Arkansas 124 east of Quitman picking up a fourth child when a Kia van struck the back end of the bus, ultimately killing the van's driver, Martha Bearden, 54, of Guy, the report states. The road conditions were clear and dry, according to the report.

The report also lists a female passenger of the van — Phoenix Bearden of Guy, whose age is not provided — as injured. Sadler said Friday afternoon that Phoenix is an infant, whom he said in an earlier statement was uninjured.

"At the time of the initial email confirming a school bus crash, Trooper [Mark] Holland did not believe the infant was injured," Sadler said in a follow-up statement. "However, because [Emergency Medical Services officials] at the scene subsequently chose to transport the child to be checked-out by a physician, this has precipitated Trooper Holland listing the child as injured for the preliminary report until he can obtain information from the physician’s exam."

The report confirms that none of the bus' passengers or its driver reported injuries. Neither the report nor Sadler immediately disclosed Phoenix's relationship to Martha Bearden.

For more on this story, read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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