One Dead, Many Injured When Bus Carrying High School Students Plunges into 50-Foot Alabama Ravine

Steve Helling

At least one person was killed and several others were injured early Tuesday morning when a charter bus full of high school students and chaperones plunged into a 50-foot ravine in Alabama.

Shortly after 5:30 pm, the Texas-bound bus crashed into a highway median on Interstate 10, the main highway that connects the southern states from Florida to California, Baldwin County, Sheriff Huey Hoss Mack said in a news conference. After hitting the median, the bus plunged into the ravine, trapping people inside the mangled vehicle until rescuers could rappel down the ravine to extricate them, said Mack.

The bus was carrying about 45 passengers at the time of the crash. It is not clear what caused the crash.

PEOPLE has confirmed that the students were band members from Channelview High, a suburban school east of Houston. They were on their way home from a school trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando.

“A charter bus transporting Channelview High School band students was involved in an accident on Interstate 10 in Alabama early this morning,” the school district said in a statement. “At this time, details are limited. We are in contact with law enforcement in Alabama trying to obtain further information.”

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The charter bus line, First Class Tours, also released a statement about the crash. “A serious accident has taken place involving a First class Tours bus in Alabama this morning,” the company writes. “It is our understanding that there are injuries as a result of the accident. Our prayers are with the injured and their families at this time. We pledge our assistance in cooperating with local authorities in the investigation.”

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The injured passengers have been taken to several local hospitals, with about 20 patients being transported by helicopters and ambulances to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Florida. More than a dozen fire departments from Alabama and Florida responded to the scene.

The Interstate was shut down down in both directions after the incident. Police say it will be closed for at least another several hours to remove the bus and investigate the incident.