WYMT | Eastern KY | News, Weather, Sports

One Dead, More Than 60 Hurt After Tour Bus Crash

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 evening, including Kayalon Jackson, 8, of Forkland, Ala.,
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, who was in critical
condition at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville, Tenn. The
woman who died was ejected from the bus, Pavey said.
Jaida Goree, 27, woke up minutes before the crash and was trying
to go back to sleep when she heard something.
"It sounded like a popping noise and then it sounded like a
wheel was grinding, then there was the impact," Goree said.
The force of the crash threw Goree forward several rows. She
called for her two children in the chaos that followed. Neither
were seriously hurt.
Two passing truckers stopped to help the family get off the bus
through the emergency exit, Goree said, adding she didn't know what
caused the accident.
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."
State police said there were 42 adult passengers, 23 children
and two drivers on the bus. Fifteen people remained hospitalized on
Monday night.
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, held over the weekend in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
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.
Most of the injured were taken to The Medical Center in Bowling
Green, which had 10 patients in stable condition, and had treated
30 others and released them, according to spokeswoman Doris Thomas.
One person taken to The Medical Center did not receive treatment.
T.J. Samson Hospital in Glasgow treated and released 14 patients,
according to state police. Greenview Regional Hospital in Bowling
Green received six patients and admitted one who was in good
condition, said spokeswoman Kelly Wiseman.
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.

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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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