WINSTON COUNTY - A bus carrying 26 pediatric resident students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham crashed between Houston and Arley Friday afternoon, Sept. 7.
According to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency's Communications Quad Cities Post, the single vehicle crash occurred at 12:12 p.m. The bus traveled down a steep hill, through an intersection, struck a large rock then a tree. The driver of the bus was airlifted, along with one other passenger. In total, 11 passengers were injured to the point of needing to be transported, with seven taken to UAB Hospital and four to Cullman Regional Medical Center, according to Savannah Koplon with UAB. Other passengers suffered minor injuries. Thankfully, none of the injuries were life threatening, and the conditions of the patients still hospitalized at UAB ranged from fair to good as of Sunday afternoon, Sept. 9, according to a UAB press release.
The crash occurred at 128 Valley Drive, located in the Emerald Valley Estates subdivision.
“I just hope and pray none of them dies,” one person on the scene said.
Agencies responding to the scene included Addison Police, Cullman EMS, Regional Paramedic Service, Winston County Sheriff’s Office, Alabama State Troopers, Double Springs Police, Addison Fire, Central Volunteer Fire and Arley Police.
Roland Brunhoeber, a nearby resident, was doing yard work and heard the crash.
“It was a huge boom,” Brunhoeber said, who had some medical supplies on hand and went to the scene. “Some of the students were out on the ground already. Talking to one student, they said they were coming down (the hill), and the brake systems were overwhelmed with the weight of the bus and the downward (slope). It came across a rock and laid a wheel over. If it wasn’t for that tree, they would have been in the house.” The bus struck the tree approximately 30 feet from the front of the residence.
“It’s a killer,” Brunhoeber continued, referring to the steep hill. “You take a load like that and try to slow it down, it’ll catch you off guard. You can lose it real easily.”
UAB had another bus on hand to pick up those students who were slightly injured or uninjured. Those students not transported from the scene were welcomed into a nearby residence to keep out of the heat. Hearn’s Wrecker Service was on scene to remove the wrecked bus, operated by First Transit, Inc.
The residents had been to a retreat at Camp McDowell, which is located in Winston County.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.