Ropes, phone lights used in res­cue af­ter bus plunge

Ripon Bulletin - - Local -

LOXLEY, Ala. (AP) — Lulled asleep by the hum­ming of their Texas-bound char­ter bus fol­low­ing a trip to Dis­ney World, mem­bers of a high school band were jarred awake be­fore dawn Tues­day when the rig ran off a high­way and plunged into a deep ravine.

One per­son died, driver Harry Caligone, and about three dozen oth­ers were hurt, three se­ri­ously, au­thor­i­ties and the bus com­pany said. In­ter­state 10 didn’t re­open in both direc­tions for about 10 hours af­ter the ac­ci­dent oc­curred be­tween Mo­bile, Alabama, and Pen­sacola, Florida.

The cause of the crash wasn’t im­me­di­ately known, but sur­vivors from Chan­nelview High School in metro Hous­ton de­scribed be­ing asleep one mo­ment and tum­bling through the air the next.

Stu­dent De­Wayne Ben­son, 15, told KTRKTV by tele­phone he awoke to hear the band di­rec­tor re­peat­edly say “Harry” be­fore the bus hit some bumps fol­lowed by one “huge bump.”

“Some stu­dents were stuck un­der seats, some were on top of other stu­dents and there’s a lot of panic to get peo­ple out,” said Ben­son, who was taken to a hos­pi­tal but wasn’t in­jured.

Stu­dents used cell­phones as lights to get out and grabbed blan­kets to help peo­ple out­side, he said. Tem­per­a­tures were in the 40s at the time of the wreck, which hap­pened around 5:30 a.m.

First re­spon­ders used ropes to rap­pel down the more than 50-foot (15-me­ter) ravine in the mid­dle of I-10 and then had to cut some of the vic­tims from the wreck­age, said Bald­win County Sher­iff Huey Hoss Mack.

The Chan­nelview In­de­pen­dent School Dis­trict said 40 stu­dents and six adults from the school were on board. Med­i­cal of­fi­cials said at least 37 peo­ple, most of them teenagers, were treated at hos­pi­tals or other fa­cil­i­ties in Pen­sacola and south­west Alabama for in­juries that ranged from mi­nor to very se­ri­ous.

The sher­iff said it wasn’t im­me­di­ately clear what caused the bus to en­ter the grassy me­dian, which abruptly ends at a steep em­bank­ment where the in­ter­state passes over Cow­pen Creek. First Class Tours Inc., the bus op­er­a­tor, iden­ti­fied Caligone as a long­time driver with the com­pany.

Sis­ter-in-law An­gela Caligone, 58, of Hous­ton, said Harry Caligone had been a bus driver for 20-plus years, the last 15 with the com­pany, and had “just passed his phys­i­cal with fly­ing colors.” She re­called him as “funlov­ing, car­ing, ded­i­cated to his job, ded­i­cated to his kids.”

Chan­nelview High’s grad­u­ates in­clude Univer­sity of Alabama quar­ter­back Jalen Hurts, who tweeted: “Wow, pray­ing for every­one in­volved! #Pray­forChan­nelview.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.