IRVING, Texas (AP) — At least two people were killed and more than 40 were hospitalized after a charter bus careened off a North Texas highway and flipped onto its side Thursday, drawing a large emergency response as rescue crews struggled to reach victims inside, authorities said.
The Cardinal Coach Line bus was on its way to a casino in Oklahoma when it suddenly weaved across the busy highway and struck two concrete barriers before toppling over in the center median, witnesses said. The wreck occurred along President George Bush Turnpike in Irving, just east of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
“It was pretty bad, people screaming,” said Ed Cluck, who stopped after driving by the wreck and seeing smoke. He said he popped the bus’ roof hatches and helped six to eight people escape.
“It was just people stacked on top of each other,” he said.
“It’s just a lot of injuries, a lot of people in shock, broken bones,” added Robert Hare, another motorist who stopped to help. He said many passengers were crying and appeared to be in shock as they were pulled from the wreckage.
Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Lonny Haschel confirmed that two people were killed. Authorities said 41 other people were taken to local hospitals, many of them suffering from fractured bones.
Emergency vehicles could be seen swarming the bus as it lay in the grassy center median, and ladders were being used to access the vehicle. The bus was carrying about 45 people, most of them senior citizens, law enforcement officials said.
A man who answered the phone at Cardinal Coach’s offices in Mansfield, just south of Dallas, confirmed that one of the company’s buses was involved. But said he didn’t have time to talk because he was trying to gather information about the crash.
Cardinal Coach has reported no crashes in the last two years that resulted in deaths or injuries, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The company operates five buses and employs seven drivers, records show.
Law enforcement officers were interviewing bus passengers and other drivers who witnessed the crash. The wreck occurred near an interchange with a second highway, snarling traffic for several miles.
“We ended up swirling and weaving and then ended up on the side,” passenger Daniel Risik, 73, told The Dallas Morning News. “People were screaming and hollering, a very traumatic situation to say the least.”