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Name released of driver in fatal wreck

RONAN – Lake County Sheriff Don Bell recently released the name of the woman killed in a crash that occurred on the morning of Monday, Feb. 27, between a Ronan school bus and a Honda Pilot on U.S. Highway 93 near Spring Creek Road and Lake’s Corner.

Cheryl Ann Brown, 56, of Kalispell died in a vehicle that she was driving as she headed northbound when it hit a southbound Ronan school bus, Sheriff Bell said. The male passenger of the vehicle was treated and released.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation by the Montana Highway Patrol. Sheriff Bell said it could take some time before the lab reports are available.

The crash occurred around 8 a.m. as a bus full of children returned to school. The bus driver, Pat Tougas, kept the bus from rolling after it was hit by the sports utility vehicle.

Ronan School District Transportation Director Matt Gaut commended Tougas for the “tremendously good job” he did in preventing the bus from rolling. He said the children could have sustained more than bumps and bruises.

Sheriff Bell also said the children had minor injuries thanks to the bus driver. “According to evidence, the bus could have went off the other side of the road where it’s swampy and wet, and there could have been more injuries, but the bus driver kept the bus upright,” he said.

Sheriff Bell reported seeing cuts on the bus driver’s face after the crash from exploding glass. “He didn’t want to leave the kids even though he was hurt,” Bell said.

Another bus was sent to scene to pick up about 20 children and take them to school. The bus driver was taken to the hospital and released a few hours later.

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