The lead that I am analyzing is in a story posted by the Star Tribune on Sunday. The story is about a group of high school students and their chaperones that were injured when their bus collided with a low bridge after a visit to Harvard University. The story can be found here.
This lead is concise, clear, and gives the right amount of information for a lead. It is one sentence and draws the reader's attention immediately by telling exactly what happened. The rest of the story becomes fill-in details because we know what happened from the lead. The most prevalent and interesting aspects of the story are laid out perfectly for the reader.
No names are used and the action of the story is highlighted. The writer attributes correctly and doesn't use flowery verbiage. The only aspect of this lead I can criticize is the lack of the "when" element. We have the who (high school students and their chaperones), the what (a bus colliding with a bridge), the where (after a visit to Harvard University), but we don't have the when. It is not until the third paragraph down that the time element is brought into the story. If I had to rewrite the lead I would leave out the why (the driver failing to heed low clearance signs) and add the time element (7:30 p.m. on Saturday).