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Survivor: Bus in fatal crash swerved like a ‘roller coaster’

Survivor: Bus in fatal crash swerved like a ‘roller coaster’
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KINGWOOD, Va. - A survivor described a bus swerving “like a roller coaster” and tumbling “five or six times” as it overturned early Tuesday along a Virginia interstate, killing two passengers and injuring others aboard.

Virginia State Police said charges are pending against the bus driver, a 40-year-old man from Staten Island, New York.

This photo provided by Virginia State Police emergency responders at the scene after a charter bus overturned on an Interstate 95 exit near Kingwood, Va., Tuesday, March 19, 2019. Virginia State Police say in a statement that the Tao s Travel Inc. bus with 57 people aboard overturned on an Interstate 95 exit Tuesday in Prince George County. Police say that as the bus turned onto the exit, it ran off the left side and overturned.  (AP / Virginia State Police)

The Tao’s Travel Inc. bus travelling from Florida to New York with 57 people aboard rolled when it ran off the left side of an Interstate 95 exit ramp in Prince George County about 5:22 a.m., state police said in a statement.

Images from the crash scene showed crews working around the overturned bus in foggy conditions. It wasn’t immediately clear if weather was a factor in the crash, state police spokeswoman Sgt. Keeli Hill said. But officials said fog prevented rescuers from using a helicopter to transport victims.

One person died at the scene and a second died hours later at a hospital, police said. Numerous other passengers were still being treated midday at area hospitals with injuries ranging from minor to serious. Police said the driver wasn’t injured.

Monique Berry, of Harlem in New York, described the crash for news outlets at a reunion centre for survivors.

“All I know, I went to close my eyes and we were moving too fast,” she said. “It swerved like a roller coaster. We tumbled five or six times. It wasn’t less than that.”

As the bus overturned, Berry said, she remembers thinking “that was it” and when she came to, a man grabbed her and they crawled out a window. In the chaos after the crash, people were lying in the mud and screaming, she said.

“I made it. I just want to get home,” she said.

The bus departed from Orlando, Florida, and stopped in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, to switch drivers, police said. It was headed to New York City when it crashed.

A representative of the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is on scene and the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified, police said.

Online FMCSA records show that the Middleton, Massachusetts-based company with four vehicles and eight drivers logged 900,000 miles (1.5 million kilometres) last year. Records show no crashes reported in the past two years but list five violations in that period, including speeding and defective or no emergency exit windows.
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