Early reports were that between 40 and 50 people were rushed to area hospitals, but the extent of their injuries wasn’t entirely known. Investigators say the bus was carrying a team of football players and coaches from Ramah Juco Academy in Rock Hill, S.C. to Raeford, where they planned to play University of God’s Chosen.
At around 3 p.m., the bus slammed into an overpass on I-74. An early investigation by the North Carolina Highway Patrol indicates the front tire of the bus blew, causing the bus to travel into the median, strike a guardrail and then careen into the overpass. News images of the scene were gruesome, showing the side wall of the bus had been almost entirely torn off. Some of the injured were lying on the ground for some time waiting for help as the more seriously injured were attended.
Every single one of the people on board were taken to an area hospital for treatment, some to trauma centers depending on the severity of their injuries. Reports were initially that the bus had overturned, but authorities later corrected this assertion and said that was not actually what happened.
Among those killed: The 10-year-old son of one of the coaches. CBS also reported the bus driver was killed as well. There were also two players killed – one 19 and the other 21, both students of Clinton College in Rock Hill.
It does appear this was a charter bus, hired specifically to take the junior college football team to what would have been their very first game. Investigators said they were examining the bus company’s track record of safety – which would include any issues with failure to maintain vehicles or equipment. Authorities are also looking into whether speed might have been a factor.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that in 2014, there were 132,000 people injured in large truck and bus crashes – a significant uptick from the 93,000 injured five years earlier in 2009.
This isn’t the first fatal North Carolina charter bus crash. In 2011, a former Wolfpack basketball standout was killed in a bus accident on I-40 in Raleigh. The 47-year-old former player was driving the bus, but at the time, there were no passengers on board. Last year, a bus carrying the Carolina Mudcats team was involved in an accident in which the vehicle flipped over while traveling to Myrtle Beach, SC. Thirty-three people were on board and eight people were treated for injuries, including seven players and a trainer.
The 2012 Motorcoach Action Safety Plan (or MAP-21) is a federal initiative working to drive down motorcoach accidents. From 2009 to 2012, the number of motorcoach inspections increased by 15 percent and approximately 900 drivers and more than 1,800 vehicles are placed out-of-service every year as a result of these inspections. Some of the main issues the initiative hopes to address are:
- Driver fatigue
- Driver behavior
- Vehicle maintenance
- Lack of operator oversight
- Crash avoidance measures
- Occupant protection
If you are injured in a Carolina bus accident, we can help you fight for proper compensation.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Four Killed, Several Injured in Charter Bus Crash Carrying SC Football Team, Sept. 17, 2016, By Jenna Barnes, Time Warner Cable News
More Blog Entries:
South Carolina Accident That Killed 2 Blamed on Tractor-Trailer Driver, Sept. 12, 2016, Charlotte Bus Accident Lawyer Blog