NATIONAL NEWS

11 injured as bus carrying University of South Carolina fraternity crashes in Mississippi

Apr 6, 2024, 12:11 PM | Updated: 3:48 pm

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (AP) — Eleven people were injured when a bus carrying University of South Carolina students blew a tire and hit a concrete barrier in Mississippi.

Mississippi state troopers said the driver and a student were critically injured and taken by helicopter to hospitals after the crash Friday, while nine other students were taken by ambulance.

The 56 passengers were members of the university’s chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and their guests, who were traveling to New Orleans for an event.

Troopers said the driver, 55-year-old Tina Wilson of Roebuck, South Carolina, was traveling west on Interstate 10 near Bay St. Louis when a tire blew and the bus hit a center concrete barrier. Bay St. Louis Police Chief Toby Schwartz said the bus careened away from the collision on two wheels before Wilson wrestled it back down onto all four wheels. Schwartz told the Sun Herald of Biloxi that Wilson “took every piece of strength in her body to hold that steering wheel long enough to get it back down on the road.”

The windshield blew out, and Wilson was ejected when the bus hit the ground. A student, Paul Clune, then ran up and grabbed the steering wheel, Schwartz said. Clune tried to keep control until the bus skidded to a stop after nearly half a mile, WLOX-TV reported.

“If that bus had flipped, we would have had casualties,” Schwartz said. “It’s the bus driver and student that saved those kids. The bus driver is an incredible hero.”

The uninjured students were taken by school bus to another location and later were taken to New Orleans. The interstate was blocked for hours.

University of South Carolina spokesperson Collyn Taylor said Saturday that travel arrangements have been made for students who want to return to Columbia and the university will provide mental health and academic support for anyone affected by the accident. Taylor said university officials were trying to determine how many people were still in the hospital.

Troopers are investigating the crash by the bus owned by Dixon Motor Xpress of Chester, South Carolina. Owner Todd Dixon told The State of Columbia on Saturday that the crash was a “freak thing” and that his company has had no other accidents since it was created in 2019.

The company has a satisfactory safety rating, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In the previous two years, the company had passed an inspection and reported no accidents.

“We’ve always had safe operations,” Dixon said. “We keep everything in top shape and don’t cut any corners, especially because we know we’re in the business of transporting people.”

Dixon praised Wilson, saying “she has years of experience and instinctively she is a safe driver.”

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11 injured as bus carrying University of South Carolina fraternity crashes in Mississippi