School bus

A Glasgow Public Schools bus driver from Fort Peck and a Troy woman who was driving a pickup were killed in a Tuesday morning wreck on U.S. Highway 2, 15 miles west of Glasgow.

Four eighth-grade students and an adult chaperone were also hospitalized with injuries that weren't life-threatening.

Valley County Sheriff Vernon Buerkle identified the bus driver as Harold "Jim" Belcher, 73, from Fort Peck. Julie Ann Steiger, 31, of Troy, was driving the pickup.

The bus had been on its way to Havre for a field trip, said Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Mitch Willett. Steiger's eastbound pickup collided head-on with the school bus after crossing the center line into oncoming traffic. The crash was reported at 6:38 a.m.

Both Steiger and Belcher were pronounced dead at the scene, Willett said.

The injured passengers were taken to Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital in Glasgow.

All of the injured children's parents were notified of the crash, said Glasgow Public Schools Superintendent Bob Connors on Tuesday morning. One student was flown to a Billings hospital for an "orthopedic situation," he said.

Belcher had worked for the district "for a number of years," Connors said.

"I’m just totally amazed with the first responders out at the scene of the accident, and down at the hospital," Connors said. "We’ve had a great response, and I’m really impressed with our little town. It’s amazing to me how they’ve come together and done a wonderful job in a very difficult situation."


Morning Reporter

General assignment reporter for the Billings Gazette.