Fatal Wreck on I-20 Leaves 5 Dead, Some 40 Injured - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

6/24/02-Outside Terrell

Fatal Wreck on I-20 Leaves 5 Dead, Some 40 Injured

   A charter bus slams into a bridge killing five, and injuring more than 35. The bus carried teen church goers who were heading for a summer church camp in Ruston, Louisiana.

  A debris field of luggage and mangled seats served as brutal reminders of the tragic accident.

   "I found bodies laying all over the ditch; there was probably 30 to 40 bodies laid in the ditch screaming, help, help me, help me," said Chief Jimmy Council with College Mound Fire Dept.

   When witnesses arrived at the scene, they found passengers thrown from the bus. DPS officers say the bus driver was killed instantly. Four other passengers were pronounced dead at the scene.

   "There were just kids thrown 25-50 feet from the bus, just tore up you know," said Reuben Vasquez, a truck driver who heard the wreck from a truck stop nearby. The Discovery charter bus was carrying as many as 47 kids and counselors from Metro Church of Garland. The students, grades 6-12, washed cars and pinched pennies to save for the trip.

   Rescue workers had to cut through twisted metal to remove some of the passengers.

   "Because the bus wrapped around the pillar, basically, we're having to be very careful as they go through to remove the bodies and preserve as much evidence as possible," said Col. Joe Applewhite with DPS.

   For family, friends and a church, there are no easy answers to why. "The only thing the passengers were able to say was that the bus started to swerve and then there was the impact," said Col. Applewhite.

   It's a wreck witnesses say they'll never forget.

   "I've been driving trucks for 13 years and seen accidents, but nothing this extreme," said Reuben Vasquez.

   The injured were transported to hospitals in Tyler, Kaufman, Wills Point, Dallas and Terrell.The most critical patients were taken to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, where two were listed in critical. One of the patients a 14-year old girl, the other a 13-year old boy. Family members of the third Parkland patient requested confidentiality.

   Families and friends gathered underneath the bridge after the wreck just across from the damaged bus. They prayed for those who survived, and for the families of those who did not.

Powered by Frankly