(Photo: John Fitzhugh, AP)
Robin Fitzgerald, Justin Mitchell and John Fitzhugh, Sun Herald Published 3:44 p.m. CT March 7, 2017 | Updated 16 hours ago
BILOXI, MS - Four people died and 35 were injured when a freight train collided with a charter bus that appeared to be stuck on railroad tracks at the Main Street crossing.
Biloxi Police Chief John Miller confirmed the fatalities in a press conference shortly after the 2:12 p.m. crash Tuesday.
A total of 43 people were on the bus, which had come to Biloxi from Austin, Texas. Four people declined to have medical treatment. Three died at the scene. A fourth died later. Two people had to be extracted from the wreckage using the Jaws of Life, according to Incident Commander Joe Boney.
Emergency personnel had scrambled to remove what at first was believed to be about 50 people from the bus, Miller said.
A man who witnessed the crash said it appeared the bus became stuck on the tracks minutes before a CSX train approached, blowing its horn.
Merit Health hospital set up a triage near the crash site and were soon joined by medics from Keesler Air Force Base.
The train was eastbound shortly when it collided with a northbound charter bus, Biloxi spokesman Vincent Creel said.
Craig Robinson, who said he witnessed the crash, told the Sun Herald the bus was stuck on the tracks about five minutes before it was struck. Some people were getting off the bus as the driver tried to get the bus moving, and those people were hit by the bus, he said. A nearby car was used as a stepladder after the crash to get victims off the bus. Earlier reports indicated the car also was involved in the crash.
Dozens of people were sitting on grass, some in neck braces, in less than half an hour as Merit Health hospital set up a triage area nearby.
“It’s very chaotic up there,” Creel said.
A helicopter has made at least one medical transport. It appeared other flights were being lined up.
Emergency dispatchers were directing first responders to the easiest routes to the scene as more help arrived.
All Biloxi fire stations responded and the Gulfport Fire Department sent in reinforcements, Gulfport Fire Chief Mike Beyerstedt said.
It’s the second time in two months that a train has collided with a vehicle in Biloxi. A CSX freight train struck a Pepsi-Cola delivery truck. The tractor-trailer became stuck on a steep grade. The driver of the vehicle, owned by Allen Beverage of Gulfport, got out and called for help but the train couldn’t stop in time.
In this photo made from video and released by WLOX-TV, Authorities pull passengers off a bus after colliding with CSX freight train, Tuesday, March 7, 2017, in Biloxi, Miss. Biloxi city spokesman Vincent Creel says emergency responders were still removing injured people from the bus more than 30 minutes after the crash. (Photo: AP