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Update: Mesa Vista school bus rolls over; driver dead, kids hurt

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Two students remained hospitalized a day after their school bus went off a road and crashed in an embankment in northern New Mexico.

The bus driver died and nine students were injured Monday when the bus crashed off State Road 111 near La Madera in Carson National Forest, Rio Arriba County sheriff's spokesman Jake Arnold said. The mountainous, isolated area is popular for hunting, hiking and camping.

Images from a KOB-TV helicopter showed the bus lodged in the embankment, in an area of mesas, sagebrush and rocky terrain. It appeared to have gone off a cliff around 15 miles from the students' schools in Ojo Caliente, a resort town known for its hot springs. The roads are surrounded by mesas, sagebrush and rocky terrain.

Seventh-grader Xavier Varela told the Albuquerque Journal the accident occurred without warning.

"I was listening to music, and all of a sudden the bus comes off the road," he said outside a hospital in Espanola, where he was evaluated and released. "I was the only one who stayed in the seat; everyone else was on the floor."

The driver, Pat Valdez, 69, died at the scene, possibly of a heart attack or other medical condition, authorities said.


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