All 35 people aboard the bus survived the crash round 8 a.m. in Wadsworth, 45 miles north of Chicago, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran Jr. said.
The bus driver may have run a red light, Curran said. The bus driver was speaking with investigators.
"The bus ... struck the vehicle, essentially close to a T-bone on the passenger section of the Jeep Wrangler," Curran said. The bus lay on its side with the two wrecked cars nearby, including the remains of a yellow Jeep Wrangler, its front roll bar completely removed and the hood flattened and squashed into the two front seats. Debris was scattered in adjacent farm fields.
The coroner's office says a male died at the scene but did not provide other details. An autopsy is expected later today.
Sarah Toomey, a spokeswoman for Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, said 24 children were taken to the hospital and 13 had been released by midday.
Those who remained were with their parents. She said the 24 had "very minor injuries," including bruises, bumps and scrapes.
At Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan, spokesman John Griffin said one student there was in fair condition and five others were in good condition.
Most of the children climbed out of the bus through the back exit.
"Some of the kids were upbeat, jovial as if they just got off a ride at Great America," Lake County Sheriff Chief Brian Keller said. "Other kids were asking for their mother or father and wanted to go home."
The accident happened about a mile from Newport Elementary School, which has some 400 students.
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