Risik said most of the passengers weren’t wearing seat belts.
“People were piled on top of each other,” he said. “It was unbelievable. A lady had pinned me. Rescue got there and started pulling people out of a roof emergency hatch. People were hollering, screaming, there was blood all over the place. It was unbelievable.”
A spokesman for Baylor Medical Center in Irving said 13 patients arrived at the hospital following the accident. Officials at Las Colinas Medical Center in Irving confirmed that another six patients were there, though details weren’t immediately available on their conditions.
Another 15 patients were transported to Parkland Memorial Hospital, including the driver of the bus, and another victim was airlifted to a fourth hospital in critical condition, hospital officials said. Public transportation buses with Dallas Area Rapid Transit were used to transport some passengers with lesser injuries.
The National Transportation Safety Board is sending investigators to Irving, board spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said.
The bus was heading to a casino in Durant, Okla., about 95 miles north of Dallas, Choctaw Casinos spokeswoman Arlene Alleman said. She said passengers had been picked up passengers in Fort Worth and other locations.
The accident comes as bus safety advocates push for quicker implementation of a law aimed at making motor coaches safer. Approved in July, the law set deadlines for the U.S. Department of Transportation to implement a series of provisions, though a recent spate of high-profile accidents has prompted some supporters to call for an accelerated timeline.
In a March 21 letter to the agency, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio pointed to a crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike involving the Seton Hall University women’s lacrosse team, as well as others in California, Oregon, Maine and Missouri as reasons for a quicker response. The Democrat also noted that a provision requiring the agency to finalize regulations regarding seat belts on buses within a year has “languished.”
Jackie Gillan, president of Washington, D.C.-based Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said Thursday’s accident in Irving is yet another reason to fast-track the law’s provisions, particularly those involving seat belts and other equipment upgrades.
“There’s nothing to stop anyone from accelerating those deadlines, and in fact one would think they would in light of these crashes,” she said.