At least one person was killed and many more were injured when a bus full of high school band members on their way home to Texas from Disney World veered off a highway and plunged into a ravine in Alabama.
The charter bus crashed into the median of Interstate 10 before falling approximately 50 feet into a ravine under a suspended bridge at about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, Baldwin County Sheriff Huey Hoss Mack told reporters.
The driver of the bus was reportedly killed, while others sustained a wide range of injuries.
Forty students and six adults were on the bus at the time of the crash, Channelview Independent School District Superintendent Greg Ollis said.
“We are aware of numerous injuries,” Ollis said in a statement. “We are now focused on getting everyone back safely to our community. We are extremely grateful for the first responders, hospital employees, and volunteers from churches and schools in Alabama and Florida that have stepped up to help our students and comfort them though this difficult situation.”
The injured were rushed by medivac and ambulance to several hospitals to be treated for their injuries, Mack said.
One person was listed in critical condition and five were in serious condition.
“This has been an extensive rescue operation,” Mack said.
It was not immediately clear what caused the bus to veer off the road.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott offered his condolences to those affected by the crash, saying in a statement: “I pray for a speedy recovery for all those injured, and I am especially grateful for the heroic actions of the Alabama first responders that undoubtedly helped save lives today.”
The bus was one of two traveling to Houston from Florida. Another bus carrying students was ahead of the bus that crashed at the time.
First Class Tours, which owns the bus that crashed, said in a statement: “We pledge our assistance in cooperating with local authorities in the investigation. Presently, this is all the information that we have to share. We will provide updates as additional information becomes available and it is appropriate to do so.”
An image of the crash showed the bus had landed on its side. A special crane will be needed to lift it out of the ravine.
The interstate was closed in both directions as recovery efforts were underway and will remain closed while authorities investigate. The National Transportation Safety Board is also sending six investigators to probe the crash.