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Two die, dozens injured in Texas bus crash on George Bush Turnpike

April 11, 2013|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske

HOUSTON -- A Texas charter bus bound for an Oklahoma casino overturned Thursday on a Dallas-area highway, killing two and injuring dozens of elderly passengers, authorities said.

The bus crashed about 9:10 a.m. in the northbound lanes of the President George Bush Turnpike in Irving, Texas.

“For an as yet undetermined reason, it traveled off the right side of the roadway and struck what’s called an impact attenuator,” a rubber device attached to the concrete, said Sgt. Lonnie Haschel of the Texas Department of Public Safety. “It glanced off and went back across two lanes of the interstate, crossed into the grassy median, struck the center divider separating the north and south lanes, rode up on top of the divider and it rolled on its right side.”

Two passengers died and more than 30 were injured, Haschel told The Times. Investigators have not released the names of the dead, he said.

Haschel also said it was not clear how many passengers were on the bus at the time of the crash, and that it was not clear where the bus was based or when it had departed.

He said the cause of the single-vehicle crash was under investigation.

“State troopers are still interviewing passengers in other vehicles at the time, passengers and the driver,” who was among those injured, Haschel said. There were no traffic signals near the crash site.

Asked if the crash may have been due to mechanical problems, he said, “It’s way too early to tell.”

Injuries ranged from minor to critical, according to Irving Assistant Fire Chief Rusty Wilson.

Wilson said investigators were still trying to determine how many passengers were on the bus when it crashed.

“We did find a list of passengers, but we don’t know how many may have been picked up,” he told The Times as he stood in a parking lot yards from the crash scene, where the highway had been closed Thursday morning in both directions.

He said rescuers had to enter the bus through the roof to extract passengers, all of whom had been removed by late morning. Wilson said 36 passengers were taken to area hospitals by ground and air, several to a local trauma center. Those with minor injuries were taken in public buses, he said.

He said the charter bus, which was still picking up passengers at the time of the crash before departing for Oklahoma, was operated by Mansfield, Texas-based Cardinal Coach Line. Cardinal officials could not be reached immediately by phone Thursday.

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