Candlelight vigil planned for victims of deadly crash involving school bus

PATTERSON, LA (WAFB) - Four people, including three children, were killed after they were ejected when the SUV they were in collided with a school bus Saturday and a vigil is planned for 5:30 p.m. tonight.

The vigil will be held in the field behind Patterson Junior High School in Patterson, LA at 5:30 p.m. Patterson is about 74 miles south of Baton Rouge and about 61 miles southeast of Lafayette, LA.

The crash happened on US 90 near LA 317 in Centerville around noon. The victims who died were identified as Ladonna Cheatham, 36; Marcus Cheatham, 16; Dwayne Escort, 14; and Destiny Cheatham, 6. They were pronounced dead at the scene by the St. Mary Parish coroner.

Ladonna Cheatham, who was driving a 2004 Kia Sorrento, was from Patterson. Louisiana State Police did not specify where the younger victims were from. Investigators said none of them had on seatbelts and they were all thrown from the vehicle.

A fifth person in the vehicle, Mark Cheatham, 17, was properly restrained and suffered moderate injuries in the crash. He remains hospitalized.

Tpr. Stephen Hammons said the school bus was carrying 30 members of the Lafayette High School baseball team and six adults, including the driver. He reported "the left rear tire on Cheatham's vehicle failed" and veered off the left side of the road, crossed the median and slammed into the school bus.

One of the adults on the bus, Cody Ortego, 23, of Lafayette, was taken to the hospital with moderate injuries. Seven students went to the hospital with minor injuries.

Authorities said the reason for the tire failure is still under investigation. Officials will perform routine toxicology tests to determine whether impairment was a factor in the crash. Blood samples were sent to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for analysis.

The crash remains under investigation.

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