A bus carrying Channelview High School band students back from a Disney World field trip in Florida plunged from a steep ravine along Interstate 10 in Alabama before dawn Tuesday.
The driver of the bus has died, according to the Associated Press.
The bus crash occurred at about 5:30 a.m. near mile marker 56, near the Alabama/Florida state line. The Baldwin County Sheriff’s office said it was not immediately clear what caused the bus to veer onto the Interstate 10 median, which ends at a steep embankment where the highway passes over Cowpen Creek.
Channelview ISD released a statement to KTRK, confirming that the bus was carrying students from Channelview High School, which is near Houston. A recent photo on the Channelview Falcon Band Facebook page showed a group of students posing outside Disney World.
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At least 12 and as many as 20 were seriously injured in the crash, according to KALA. Helicopters and first responders on the ground with flashlights searched the wreckage for survivors.
Jesus Tejeda, who filmed an early portion of the search-and-rescue operation, said he watched four people being removed from the scene, but that he couldn’t hear any yelling from where he stood.
“Thank God they were alive but [they] had to take them on [a] helicopter,” Tejeda told the Associated Press.
WEAR reported that the bus was carrying 52 students, and that 43 had been accounted for shortly after the crash.
“We have multiple injuries; the bus went down into a ravine,” Chris Elliot, a Baldwin County commissioner who assisted at the county emergency management facility after the crash, told the Associated Press. “The fire department and officers are having to rappel down into the area to get into it.”
KHOU reported that one more passenger is in critical condition. A second bus on the same spring break trip is continuing on to Texas, according to the sheriff’s office.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.