LOXLEY, Ala. (AP) — A bus carrying Texas high school band members home from Disney World plunged into a ravine before dawn Tuesday in Alabama, killing one person and injuring many others.
First responders used ropes to rappel down the 50-foot ravine in the middle of Interstate 10 to reach them, and then had to cut some of the victims free from the wreckage, said Baldwin County Sheriff Huey Hoss Mack, who confirmed the fatality.
About 45 people were on board, and were brought to 10 hospitals in Alabama and Florida, either by helicopter or ambulance, he said.
The sheriff said it wasn't immediately clear what caused the bus to enter the grassy median, which abruptly ends at a steep embankment where the interstate passes over Cowpen Creek. The crash happened at about 5:30 a.m., crunching the bus and leaving the passengers exposed to chilly temperatures.
Rescuers used every piece of equipment on every truck to reach them, Mack said: "This is what we call an all-out."
An image of the wreckage shows the crumpled bus landed on its side, far below the pavement. The interstate was closed down in both directions as the injured were flown to hospitals including emergency rooms in Mobile and Pensacola, Florida, plus a free-standing emergency room in rural Baldwin County, said Chris Elliott, a Baldwin County commissioner who helped out at the county emergency management center following the crash.
"Everybody is being transferred to a hospital to at least be checked out," said Elliott.
A second bus on the spring break trip, driving ahead of the one that crashed, is continuing on to Texas, the sheriff said.
Channelview Independent School District spokesman Mark Kramer confirmed that the charter bus was carrying Channelview High School band members. Kramer's statement said the district had only limited details in the immediate aftermath and was in contact with law enforcement in Alabama to get more information.
An official with the bus charter company, First Class Tours of Houston, said the company was working on a statement.
One image posted on the band's Facebook page hours before the crash showed a large group posing outside Disney World.
This story has been corrected; the sheriff's middle name is Hoss, not Moss.