Three die as CSX freight train hits bus in Biloxi, Miss. – USA TODAY
At least fourÂ people died and dozens of others were injured Tuesday after a train hit a charter bus at a Biloxi, Miss., railroad crossingÂ Tuesday afternoon, officials said.
The crash happened at 2:12 p.m. local time when a CSX freight train headed from New Orleans to Mobile, Ala., slammed into an Echo Transportation tour bus that, according to one witness, appeared to get stuck on the railroad tracks at a crossing.
The deceased were two men and two women, Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove told USA TODAY.
The wreckage of twisted metal forced emergency responders to use Jaws of Life hydraulic rescue tools to remove two victims from the bus, officials reported. Several members of the clergy joined the choatic scene, where three people appeared to have died immediately, officials said.
“You know the old saying, ‘It takes a village,’ well, the village came out today,” Biloxi Fire Chief Joe Boney told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
It took responders two hours to remove the 40 to 50 passengers from the bus, Biloxi Police Chief John Miller said. The fourth person who passed away died after the accident, Miller told reporters.
The bus was making the 30- to 45-mile trip (depending on the route) from a casino in Bay St. Louis, Miss., to another casino in Biloxi, Ameet Patel, senior vice president of regional operations for Penn National Gaming, told WBTV. The gaming company based in Wyomissing, Penn., could not be reached by telephone Tuesday evening.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who tragically lost their lives and all those affected by this accident,” Patel’s statement read.
It was not clear whether the bus was broken down or stuck on the tracks, Sgt. Jackie Rhodes, public information officer for the Biloxi Police Department, told USA TODAY.
The injured – over 30 people – were being airlifted to regional hospitals. All but seven of the passengers on board the bus suffered some degree of injury when theÂ train crashed into the bus, which originated in Austin, Texas, Miller said.
The bus was stuck on the track for about five minutes before the train crashed into it, witness Craig Robinson told the Sun Herald.
CSX has stopped all rail traffic, WBTV reported.
The railroad based in Jacksonville, Fla., said in a statement Tuesday that no crew members were injured in the incident and that the mixed-freight train had three locomotives and 52 cars — 27 loaded cars and 25 empty cars. CSX said it was cooperating fully with authorities.
“Our thoughts are with all involved,” the CSX statement read.
A woman who answered the telephone at the offices of the bus company, Echo Transportation, out of Austin, Texas, said the company had no comment. The bus company did sendÂ a statement to WBTV that it was “mobilizing right now to investigate.”
The tragic crash comes one day after the railroad conglomerate announced it was naming longtime railroad executive E. Hunter Harrison as its new CEO, replacing Michael Ward, who announced his decision to retire last month. CSX is based in Jacksonville, Fla.
Biloxi City Councilman Felix Gines told WBTV that out of respect for the injured and those who passed away, officials were not giving out details about injuries just yet. He said officials were asking for prayers for those who lost their lives, those who were injured and their families.
On Jan. 5, a CSX freight train crashed into a Pepsi-Cola delivery truck that became stuck at the same railroad crossing in Biloxi, Rhodes of the Biloxi Police Department said. No one was injured in that incident. The driver tried for 10 minutes to remove the truck from the tracks and notified police, but CSX was not able to stop the train in time.
A message was left with the Biloxi Police Department as well as with the Mississippi Highway Patrol.