A child was killed and at least 45 other passengers, most of them children, were injured when a charter bus carrying a youth all-star football team slipped off a highway in Arkansas early Monday and overturned, authorities said.
The driver, who survived the wreck, told Arkansas State Police that she lost control of the bus on Interstate 30 near Benton, Arkansas.
The crash occurred about 2:40 a.m. and Arkansas State Police said some of the injured were found trapped inside the bus.
The white charter bus was carrying a youth all-star football team from Memphis, Tennessee, which had played in a championship game on Sunday in Dallas, officials said.
The bus was traveling from Texas to Memphis, Tennessee, when it went off the highway, down an embankment and overturned several times, the Arkansas State Police said.
The injured children, who range in age from 8 to 13, were taken to hospitals in nearby Benton and Little Rock, police said. There were also adult coaches and chaperones on the bus who were hurt, police said.
At least 26 patients were being treated at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock and two underwent emergency surgery, Dr. Todd Maxson, chief pediatric trauma surgery at the hospital, said at a news conference Monday afternoon.
“The injuries have ranged really from injuries to the skull and brain to lots of lacerations, lots of broken bones, lots of contusions. We saw the whole gambit of that today,” Maxson said.
“Everybody is stable and doing well,” he said. “We did two emergency operations today and both patients are doing well. I expect them to make a full recovery.”
Chanda Cashen Chacón, chief operating officer at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, said 22 of the patients treated at the hospital were released and four were admitted for further treatment.
Another 13 patients were treated for minor injuries at Saline Memorial Hospital in Benton and released, according to a hospital spokeswoman. Two patients were airlifted to the hospital, officials said.
Other patients were treated at Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock.
Nickalous Manning, superintendent of Aspire Public Schools in Memphis, said the child who died was from his school district. He said three other students from his school district were also aboard the bus.
“This is a difficult time for all of us and we will have counselors available for our students and staff,” Manning said in a statement.
State police said the driver told investigators she lost control of the bus but it was not immediately clear what caused her to lose control.
Asked if driver fatigue could have played a role in the crash, a state police official said that investigators are taking into consideration all potential contributing factors that may have played a role in causing the bus to leave the roadway.”
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said the children on the bus participated in a youth sports association in the Orange Mound neighborhood in southeast Memphis.
“On behalf of all Memphians, our hearts and prayers go out to the Orange Mound children and their families involved in this morning’s tragic bus accident in Arkansas,” Strickland said in a tweet.