Monday, November 20, 2006

Lee High School Bus Flips Off Interstate, 3 Dead

Nov 20, 2006 04:53 PM

From the NewsChannel 19 Team:

A third student has died, from injuries she received in a bus wreck that happened shortly after 10 o'clock this morning.  The bus was carrying Lee High School students to the Huntsville Center for Technology on Drake Avenue.

The bus flipped off I-565 onto the ground near Church Street in downtown Huntsville.  More than 30 students were on the bus.

Huntsville police and Huntsville Hospital staff confirmed to NewsChannel 19's Amber Stuart that a third student has died. 

Police say the students who died were Christine Collier, 17, Nichole Ford, 18, and Tanesha Hill, 17.

The bus was on its daily route to the Huntsville Center for Technology on Drake Avenue, when it flipped off the Interstate.  More than 30 students were on board.  A number of them were critically hurt.

Police have spoken with the driver of an orange Toyota Celica, which collided with the bus.  Police say the driver was also a Lee High School student.


Police have a team investigating how the wreck happened. They are trying to find the driver of a red car, found on one of the interstate ramps.  They believe the driver of the car is a Lee High School student, but have not released the driver's name, and don't know his or her condition.

Traffic is open again on I-565, with the exception of the ramp from I-565 West leading to Memorial Parkway (north and south).

NewsChannel 19's Shane Hays, one of our photojournalists, flew over the crash site around 11am, and reports traffic was backed up in the westbound lanes, into Huntsville, because of the wreck.

Parents at the scene tell NewsChannel 19 crews their children called them from cell phones as soon as the bus hit the ground, and they rushed to the scene. 

Parents are asked to go to the cafeteria at Huntsville Hospital to find out
more about their children, if they believe they were on the bus.  Many parents have also checked out their children early from Lee High School today.  Read more below.

NewsChannel 19 has learned that 13 of the injured students are being treated at Huntsville Hospital.  Of those, two are at the hospital's main emergency room, and 11 were in the pediatric emergency room,
located at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children.

Huntsville Hospital called in all nursing staff to report to work, to help with the injured students. 

NewsChannel 19's Amber Stuart has been at Huntsville Hospital throughout the day.  She reports that seriously injured students are being treated there, and less-seriously injured students were taken to surrounding hospitals, including Crestwood Medical Center.

Dr. Ann Roy Moore, superintendent of Huntsville City Schools, is at Huntsville Hospital to talk with parents.

Police are blocking off streets near the hospital, to allow ambulances to take injured victims to the emergency room as quickly as possible.

NewsChannel 19's Greg Screws reports from Lee High School that many parents are at
the school, to make sure their children are there, and were not on the bus.  There are several security guards at every entrance of the school.  Many parents are checking their children out of school.  There is also a team of counselors at the school to help students who are grieving.

A district manager from the Alabama Department of Transportation is at the scene.  He will check the
overpass.  He'll then notify the central office with his findings, and will coordinate with the Department of Public Safety.

This school bus did not have seat belts, as many buses do not.


Hat tip to StoptheACLU for this story.

I'm from Decatur (south of Huntsville) and currently live in the NW part of Alabama, so this hits hard.  I've been at work all day and not reading the news since before lunch.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all the family/friends and students themselves.

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