4 killed, dozens hurt as train barrels into bus
BILOXI (Mississippi): A freight train slammed into a charter bus at a railroad crossing in Biloxi, Mississippi, on Tuesday, killing four people on the bus and leaving dozens injured, officials said.
City officials said the tour bus, which originated in Austin, Texas, and was heading to a casino, was stopped on the tracks for an unknown reason.
Biloxi city spokesman Vincent Creel confirmed the crossing had signs warning of its low ground clearance, warning that a large vehicle could potentially become lodged on the tracks.
But he could not say if that was what occurred, adding that federal authorities would lead the investigation.
Three people on the bus were killed in the collision and a fourth person died after being transported from the scene, Biloxi Police Chief John Miller said.
More than 40 passengers on the bus were transported to area hospitals.
The crash came on the heels of an effort by Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich to close some rail crossings, with the stated goal of improving safety in the tourist hub with a population of 45,000 people on the Gulf of Mexico.
But this crossing, the site of another wreck between a train and a truck on Jan 5, was not one of those selected for possible closure, he said.
City officials and CSX, which operated the train, said Biloxi with its many railroad crossings had a high number of train crashes for the region.
The bus trip was sponsored by Bastrop Senior Centre, Barbara Adkins, president of the Texas facility, said by phone.
The passengers were members of the centre, along with relatives and friends, she said.
Witness Sue Perkins said the coach appeared to get stuck because it was too long for the steep angle of the hill at the crossing. The crossing’s red lights lit up and the safety gates descended with the bus stuck on the tracks, Perkins said.
Then she saw the train in the distance and the conductor sounded the horn but could not stop in time.
“There was a big waterfall of glass from the bus in the accident,” she said.
The scene of a tour bus and train crash in Biloxi, Mississippi, on Tuesday.