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NTSB investigators arrive to look into deadly bus crash

A team of about a dozen National Transportation Safety Board investigators arrived in Alabama Wednesday to begin thei...

Posted: Mar. 15, 2018 9:32 PM
Updated: Mar. 15, 2018 9:32 PM

A team of about a dozen National Transportation Safety Board investigators arrived in Alabama Wednesday to begin their probe into a deadly charter bus crash on Interstate 10 in Baldwin County.

About a dozen federal investigators met with local officials at 10 a.m. at the Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency facility in Robertsdale. Afterward, they divided into three teams that will look into the crash, in which a bus operated by First Class Tours carrying band members from Channelview High School of Texas plunged into a 50-foot ravine when it left a westbound I-10 travel lane near mile marker 57, east of the Florida state line.

The bus driver, Harry Caligone, died in the 5:30 a.m. Tuesday crash that shut down I-10 for hours. More than two dozen others were hurt, with bus passengers transported to hospitals in Pensacola, Fla., as well as in Mobile and Baldwin County in Alabama.

The three NTSB teams are examining:

The bus, which was removed from the crash scene at midday Tuesday.

The scene, including examining the highway conditions and path taken by the bus.

The driver, including talking to witnesses and passengers.

NTSB officials say they anticipate the investigators will be in the area about a week.

Local authorities say the bus -- carrying members of the Channelview High School band home to Texas following a trip to Disney World in Florida -- veered off the highway before plunging down a steep ravine.

About 45 people were on board the bus, authorities have said.

One parent who had a son on the bus says she wants answers as to what happened.

"To know that my son is OK, puts me at ease," said Frances Dodson, mother of a bus passenger. "But to know that something like this happened, I mean you have questions. I mean, what caused the accident?"

On Wednesday, Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola reports three patients in serious condition and two in good condition. Thomas Hospital in Baldwin County lists three patients in stable condition. In Mobile, crash survivors in hospitals included one in stable condition at Mobile Infirmary and two in fair condition at USA Medical Center.

"I felt hopeless and like I couldn't do anything," said Josh Torres, the brother of one of the victims. "It was scary. I legitimately thought my sister was dead and then I wouldn't be able to see her again."

Thankfully, Josh said, his 17-year-old sister, Bianca Torres, is OK. She is bruised but has no serious injuries.

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