Broken glass and twisted metal littered the roadway hours after the accident as police and fire officials examined the wrecked vehicles in an area just south of the intersection with state Route 401. Authorities said Route 113 was closed until about 2:30 p.m.
Two medical evacuation helicopters and at least five ambulances transported the injured from the scene of the crash in north-central Chester County to four area hospitals, authorities said.
"This was probably the worst accident I've seen, and I've been in the business for seven years," said Doug Smith, a Phoenixville Hospital emergency worker who was one of the first to arrive at the crash site.
George Carlino, public relations director for the Chester County Intermediate Unit, which directs special education in the county, said preliminary reports indicated that the tractor-trailer struck a car and then crashed head-on into the school bus. He said the bus was taking the children, who have various physical and mental disabilities, to schools in Downingtown and Coatesville.
Richard Ruth, chief of the Lionville Fire Company, said the tractor-trailer flipped onto its side when it struck the school bus. He said all three drivers had to be freed from their vehicles by rescue workers.
The truck driver, Perry Herr, 25, of Hershey, and the car driver, Ethel Dzuryacho, were taken by helicopter to the Lehigh Valley Hospital Center near Allentown, officials said.
Hospital officials said that both had suffered multiple injuries and were in critical condition last night.
Authorities said Trevor Buzzard was taken by ambulance to Brandywine Hospital near Coatesville, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. A Brandywine spokeswoman said the bus driver, Cynthia DiBruno, 28, of Coatesville, was admitted with multiple injuries and was in critical condition.
DiBruno's son Joseph, 3, who was riding in the bus, was treated at Phoenixville Hospital for minor injuries and released, authorities said.
Authorities said seven students in the bus were injured, one of them critically. They said all the students were taken by ambulance to Phoenixville Hospital.
The most seriously injured student, Lloyd Goldmon, 17, of Phoenixville, was transferred by helicopter to Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia with head and multiple injuries, hospital officials said. Hahnemann officials said Goldmon was in critical condition.
Lisa Radecki, a Phoenixville Hospital spokeswoman, said the six remaining students, all Phoenixville residents, had been treated for cuts and bruises and released. She identified them as Anthony Harding, 18; Thomas Bachi, 10; Brian Knight, 15; Joyce Cappone, 16; Denise Yuengling, 17, and Denise Waters, 14.
Authorities said that the cause of the accident had not been determined and that an investigation was continuing.