Bus carrying high school band overturns, some injuries

Published 11:47 pm Saturday, September 16, 2006

A bus carrying 26 members of the Rosa Fort High School band overturned Friday night en route to a football game in Panola County, sending several students to area hospitals, officials and witnesses said.

At least two students were airlifted from the scene after the bus flipped several times on Mississippi 6 in Panola County, said Staff Sgt. Scott Swanson, a spokesman for the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

Swanson said a sports utility vehicle traveling along side a line of buses carrying students ran off the road while attempting to pass. The driver of the SUV over compensated and slammed into the side of the bus, he said.

“It actually went into a fishtail and the bus went off into the median and overturned several times,” Swanson said. “I don’t know the exact number of injuries, but I believe a couple were airlifted. Oxford and Batesville hospitals are splitting the people that were injured.”

Ralph Braseth, director of student media at the University of Mississippi, said he arrived on the scene about 20 minutes after the accident and saw several ambulances taking away injured students.

“The thing that was the most striking was that the rear axle was ripped off (the bus),” Braseth said. “The bus ended up on its side. The driver would have been next to the dirt, that’s what side it was on.

“About 40 feet from where the bus came to rest was where the rear axle ended up with the four wheels still on it,” he said.

Braseth said at least eight ambulances were brought in and at least three students were whisked away in helicopters. There was no immediate way to clarify discrepancies in official accounts and witness recollections.

William Massey, a shift supervisor at Tri Lakes Medical Center in Batesville, said numerous students had been brought in Friday night with various minor injuries, though he did not know how many.

Ricky Stevens, a spokesman for the Regional Medical Center in Memphis, Tenn., said the facility had recieved two patients — a 15-year-old female and a 42-year-old female — and both were in good condition

Peyton Warrington, assistant administrator at Baptist Memorial Hospital of North Mississippi in Batesville, said six students were brought there and all were in stable condition.

Rosa Fort coach Lynord Crutchfield told The Oxford Eagle newspaper after the game at Lafayette High School that students and players started hearing about the accident in the second half.

“In the fourth quarter the refs asked me if we wanted to have a running clock and I asked him why and he told me about the accident … I guess it must have effected (the players),” he said, referring to the 41-6 loss.

After the game the players from both teams gathered on the field and Lafayette High School coach Anthony Hart led the players and coaches in prayer.