According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, bob-tail tractor had stopped in the right lane of eastbound Interstate 44, about 40 miles southwest of St. Louis, for a construction-related traffic back up when the truck was struck from behind by a pick up truck. Moments later, the first of two school buses struck the pick up truck. The first rode up on top of the pickup, crushing the driver inside. The second school bus struck the first from the rear, pushing the tangled wreckage into the back of the tractor.
As a result of the accident, there were two fatalities and 38 injuries.
According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, NTSB Board vice-chairman Christoper Hart said, at the time, the crew of 15 investigators got involved "because there are issues of long-standing interest to the NTSB." They include school-bus safety, highway work-zone safety and the potential for crash-sensing devices on school buses and other commercial vehicles that would warn drivers or even automatically apply the brakes.