On Tuesday, a freight train smashed into a charter bus in a coastal Mississippi city, pushing the bus 300 feet down the tracks and leaving at least four people dead, according to authorities.
Rescuers spent more than an hour removing passengers from the damaged bus, and had to cut through the bus’s heavily damaged frame to extract the last two passengers.
The CSX Transportation locomotive, which hit the bus, pushed the bus about 300 feet down the tracks before finally coming to a stop with the mangled bus in front of it, still straddling the tracks.
The CSX Transportation locomotive pushed up against the left side of the charter bus. “We’re not sure why,” Biloxi Police chief John Miller said. “We don’t know if there were mechanical issues or what was taking place.”
The bus appeared to have been stuck on the tracks when it was hit by the train, witnesses told Mississippi news outlets. The bus was carrying Texas tourists visiting Gulf Coast casinos.
Ameet Patel, senior vice president of regional operations for Penn National Gaming, owner of Hollywood Gulf Coast Casino in Bay St. Louis and Boomtown Biloxi Casino, said that the charter bus was traveling to the Boomtown casino from the Hollywood casino at the time of the crash.
Witnesses said that the conductor of the freight train was slowing down and trying to stop, but it still slammed into the charter bus despite the conductor’s efforts.
Jim DeLaCruz, who was in the back of the bus with his wife, said that the bus got stuck on the tracks. DeLaCruz said he was his wife were trying to get off the bus, but the train “just kept coming.”
After the train crashed into the bus, in Biloxi, Mississippi, bystanders said they rushed to try and help the passengers on the charter bus.
One bystander, Buddy Pitts, told WLOX-TV that he crawled beneath the train’s wheels to try and reach a woman whose legs were still stuck beneath the train. Pitts said the woman was still conscious, and he was able to speak with her as firefighters and others worked to free the passengers.
Four people were killed in the collision and more than three dozen were injured.
Mark Robinson, a Biloxi native, told WLOX-TV that he saw the passengers who were trying to get off of the bus either get thrown beneath it or run over by the train. “Body pieces were thrown everywhere,” Robinson said.