One Killed, 66 Injured In Charter Bus Crash (Updated)

Emergency workers are on the scene of a crash involving a charter bus. It's happening at the 42 milemarker on I-65 in Warren County, near Bowling Green.

A reporter at our sister station, WBKO, reports that one person is dead, and that at least 40 are injured. 67 people were onboard at the time of the crash.

Many of the injured were taken to the hospital in Bowling Green. Those with more serious trauma were flown to other area hospitals.

The reporter on the scene also tells us that the bus contained a family on the way home to Alabama from a family reunion.

Kentucky State Police investigators are in route to the scene. While a definite cause of the crash has not been confirmed, officials with the Warren County Sheriff's Department are not ruling out the possibility that the driver fell asleep at the wheel.

Two southbound lanes on the interstate are open at this time, causing a significant traffic backup.

Associated Press Story
1 dead, 66 injured when charter bus crashes in Kentucky

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) - A tour bus carrying members of an extended Alabama family home from a reunion in New York veered off a southern Kentucky interstate early Monday and slammed into an overpass support, killing one person and injuring 66 others.

At least two of the injured were reported in critical condition Monday afternoon, including one child and the driver, identified by Kentucky State Police as Abraham Parker, 63, of Birmingham, Ala.

State police said a preliminary investigation found that the driver had apparently dozed off. Trooper Steve Pavey said no charges were pending against the driver. The woman who died was ejected from the bus, Pavey said.

Mary Hill, who said most of those on the bus were her cousins, drove five hours Monday morning after getting word that her brother, John Collins, was injured in the crash.

"He said everyone was so hysterical," she said. "Everyone was trying to find the kids."

The injured were taken to four hospitals, including some of the most seriously injured who were flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. State police said the driver was among those in critical condition at the Nashville hospital.

The crash happened at 2:56 a.m. CDT, while most of the bus passengers were asleep, state police said. As officials worked hours later to remove the shattered bus from the roadside, children's pink suitcases, blankets and other luggage could be seen piled along the shoulder of busy Interstate 65, about 75 miles north of Nashville.

Some of the bus passengers being treated at the scene wore T-shirts commemorating the Hamilton Jackson Hendricks Family Reunion.

Clarence Williams, president of Birmingham-based C&R Tours which owns the bus, confirmed it had been rented by an Alabama family for a trip to upstate New York. He did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment after state police released their preliminary finding on the cause of the crash.

The company had a satisfactory safety rating when it was last reviewed in March, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. It had not reported any accidents or injuries in the last two years.

The passengers included about 40 members of the Jackson family from Forkland, Ala., and several town officials, said Cynthia K. Stone, city clerk in the west Alabama community of 630 people.

Warren County Coroner Kevin Kirby identified the woman who died as Carrie Walton, 71, of Greene County, Ala.

Walton was "a very lovely person," Stone said. "She was a wonderful mother, grandmother. Her family was the most important thing to her."

By early afternoon a number of the injured had been released from hospitals and began arriving at a shelter the Red Cross set up at a church. John Warnoff, local co-chair for disaster services, said about half those they were expecting were children.

Red Cross officials assisted the injured out of a church van, with some of the passengers needing wheelchairs and crutches. Others had bandages on their heads and arms. A stream of individuals and church groups from the community arrived with supplies, including diapers and food.

A family member who wasn't able to go to the reunion, Lashondra Jackson, said from Forkland that her husband was on his way to one of the Kentucky hospitals, and others were trying to arrange transportation.

"They're trying to find a bus that can take them," she said.

Associated Press writer Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Ala., contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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