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Team bus, truck crash on I-75; injuries reported

BERLIN TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Five youths were among seven people with minor injuries after a bus with 30 passengers heading to a youth football tournament in Tennessee crashed early Friday into a jackknifed tractor-trailer rig hauling an empty tanker truck on a southeast Michigan freeway, authorities said.

The truck driver apparently swerved to avoid a deer on southbound Interstate 75 about 4 a.m. in Berlin Township, about 30 miles southwest of Detroit, lost control and crashed, the Monroe County Sheriff's Department said. The bus that hit the truck was the first of four traveling together. The truck had been blocking the left and center lanes.

The drivers of the truck and the bus that crashed, along with five bus passengers, were taken to hospitals with what were described as minor injuries, the department said.

The buses were carrying Southfield Jayhawks' players, cheerleaders and parents, The Monroe Evening News reported.

The southbound freeway was closed for about two hours as authorities responded, leaving traffic backed up for miles in the area about 25 miles northeast of Toledo, Ohio. Tony Chambers, director of the team, said the bus driver was a hero for her efforts to get the bus off the road before the other buses or traffic hit it.

"She did an outstanding job," he said. "If she didn't get the bus off the road, it could have been a disaster out there."

The truck driver was identified by the sheriff's department as Dedric L. Carpenter, 38, of Detroit, and the bus driver was identified as Kay L. Chatman, 57, of Detroit.

"Before leaving the scene, all she wanted to know is if all of the kids were OK," Chambers said of the bus driver.

The Detroit-area football team, which has players ranging from ages 7 to 14, continued on to Tennessee on the other three buses. About 86 children and 40 adults were traveling, the newspaper reported. Their first game is Saturday at the Knoxville tournament known as the "Battle in Rocky Top."

The crash was is under investigation Friday.