One Dead, More Than 60 Hurt In Bus Crash - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

06/25/07-Bowling Green, KY

One Dead, More Than 60 Hurt In Bus Crash

A bus carrying people home from a family reunion crashed on an interstate in southern Kentucky early Monday while passengers were asleep, killing one person and injuring 66 others, officials said.

Police said it appeared the driver had dozed off. State Police Trooper Steve Pavey said the bus veered off the right side of the highway, struck an earthen embankment and stopped when it rammed a concrete bridge pillar.

Four people suffered critical injuries, said Randy Fathbruckner, director of emergency medical services at The Medical Center in Bowling Green. The woman who died was ejected from the bus, Pavey said.

The bus had been rented by a family returning to Alabama from a reunion in Buffalo, N.Y., said Clarence Williams, president of C & R Tours. Pavey said the reunion was at Niagara Falls, near Buffalo.

Warren County Coroner Kevin Kirby said the crash happened about 4:20 a.m. EDT. The front of the bus was crushed against the concrete pillar and children's luggage was scattered around the vehicle.

Pavey said there were 65 passengers and two drivers on the bus.

"Most everyone was asleep on the bus at the time of the crash," Pavey said. No other vehicles were involved, he said.

Pavey said there was no early indication of possible criminal charges.

He said two passing motorists stopped and helped people off the bus after the crash.

The 1987 bus crashed near the 42-mile marker on Interstate 65, about 75 miles north of Nashville, Tenn., Kentucky State Police dispatcher Daniel Priddy said.

Williams did not immediately return calls seeking additional comment.

The company had a satisfactory safety rating when it was last reviewed in March, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. It had not reported any accidents or injuries in the last two years.

Kentucky State Police identified the woman who died as Carrie Walton, 71, of Birmingham, Ala.

The passengers included about 40 members of the Jackson family from Forkland, Ala., and several town officials, said Cynthia K. Stone, city clerk in the west Alabama community of 630 people.

Walton was "a very lovely person," Stone said. "She was a wonderful mother, grandmother. Her family was the most important thing to her."

The injured were taken to various hospitals. The driver, Abraham Parker, 63, also of Birmingham, was in critical condition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, state police said.

A family member who wasn't able to go to the reunion, Lashondra Jackson, said her husband was on his way from Forkland to one of the Kentucky hospitals where the injured were taken, and others were trying to arrange transportation.

"They're trying to find a bus that can take them," she said.

Story, pictures and video provided by WAVE3 Raycom Media. AP contribued to this report. All rigts reserved.

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