Mystery lingers after crash that killed Konawa student - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Mystery lingers after crash that killed Konawa student

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The Konawa High School bus burst into flames after a head-on crash near Bowlegs on March 9, 2019. The Konawa High School bus burst into flames after a head-on crash near Bowlegs on March 9, 2019.
John Tallbear was killed after his SUV collided with the Konawa High School bus on March 8, 2019. John Tallbear was killed after his SUV collided with the Konawa High School bus on March 8, 2019.

BOWLEGS, Okla. -- A mystery lingers following a fiery school bus crash Friday night that left a student athlete on the bus and two people in a sport utility vehicle dead.

Investigators say the driver of the SUV, John Tallbear, collided head-on with the Konawa Junior High School bus as he was trying to pass another vehicle on US 377 just south of Bowlegs, Oklahoma.

Tallbear's female passenger -- who also died -- has not yet been identified. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is asking for the public's help in learning the woman's identity.

Konawa Public Schools were closed Monday to honor the memory of the student athlete on the school's softball team who died in the crash.

The team's coach was driving the bus. He and five other team members returning from a game in Okemah were taken to hospitals for treatment and later released.

Current and former Sulphur softball players are collecting money and softball equipment to donate to their heartbroken colleagues in Konawa.

"We decided that we were going to raise some money to help replace things that had actually burned in the bus: Catching gear, helmets, bats, gloves, stuff like that," said Hali Gilbert, the daughter of Coach Heath Gilbert and a former player herself.

"We've had people out of state call and want to donate," she said. "There are people, tournament teams, high schools, wanting to help, donating equipment, money, anything like that."

Equipment or money can be donated through Thursday at Kitchen 117, 117 West Muskogee Avenue, in Sulphur. In Konawa, Sooner State Bank and Bancfirst established accounts to receive donations.

"We are all Konawa Tigers this week," Gilbert said. "We all want to be there for you guys, just to make this a little easier. You guys are in our thoughts and prayers."

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