RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — At least 33 people are hurt, one critically, after a bus flipped on Powhite Parkway around 7:15 p.m. Sunday.
The driver was trying to take the Chippenham Parkway exit when the bus flipped. The crash shut down the exit ramp for hours but has since reopened.
The bus, operated by Abbott Bus Lines of Roanoke, had 51 people on board, including two drivers. The other 49 were students heading back to Radford and Virginia Tech from fall break, according to a parent.
“I dropped them off at VCU, they were headed back to Radford tonight to go back to school,” said parent Deborah Baldwin. “I was on my way home; I got a call that said the bus flipped over on Chippenham.
“I was coming down Hull Street, so I just turned and came over here. And they’re putting them in the ambulance right now — her and my niece, so I have to go to the hospital to see what’s going on.”
There were some injuries, mostly bumps, bruises, and cuts. There were no fatalities.The injured were transported to five area hospitals, including VCU Medical Center, Chippenham, Johnston-Willis, St. Mary’s, Henrico Doctor’s Hospital Forrest Hill Campus and Southside Regional Hospital.
Of the 15 brought to VCU Medical Center, 11 victims have been treated and released at last check and four remain in good condition.
Officials labeled this a mass casualty situation so that they could get all the possible resources from surrounding jurisdictions. Parents had just dropped their kids off at the bus pick up spot at VCU.
“When you have a bus of this size, with that many students on it and it overturns like this in a crash, absolutely we are very fortunate that there weren’t more injured seriously than they were,” said Lt. Jason Elmore of the Chesterfield County Fire and EMS.
58-year-old Thomas Chidester was driving the bus. He’s been charged with reckless driving.
Abbott Trailways issued a statement which reads in full:
On Sunday night, November 29, a motorcoach owned and operated by Abbott Trailways was involved in an accident in Richmond, Virginia.
The motorcoach was chartered to take students at Virginia Tech and Radford University back to their campuses after the Thanksgiving weekend
At this time, Abbott Trailways is fully cooperating with law enforcement officials and first responders to make sure everyone onboard the motorcoach is accounted for and anyone who needs medical attention gets it.
The cause of the accident is under investigation and Abbott Trailways is again working with police to determine what happened.
Abbott Trailways is also taking steps to make sure all of the students who wish to get to campus tonight are accommodated on another bus, which was dispatched as soon as the company learned of the accident.”
Officials are still investigating the cause of the crash.