One dead, six critically injured after tour bus carrying 50 plunges down Alabama ravine

Tour bus carrying 52 plunges down Alabama ravine. (WPMI)

UPDATE: East and Westbound lanes of Interstate 10 have been open since around 3:30pm.

The most amazing thing about the bus crash carrying 40 students from Channelview, Texas is that so many survived. Some are in critical condition, but everyone, including rescuers, are breathing a sigh of relief. The outcome could have been much worse.

There's no doubt the 50 foot drop down the ravine off I-10 was horrifying for everyone. Rescuers from both Florida and Alabama came prepared, ready to save lives.

"The bus came to rest on one side down in the ravine. Those had to either be brought up by ropes and repelling individuals by the fire departments, some were carried out by deputies and other law enforcement," said Sheriff Huey Mack Jr.

Hundreds of vehicles were re-routed this morning.

"I hit a dead stop on the highway and I sat there for about an hour. There were so many emergency vehicles coming up each shoulder, I couldn’t even turn around," said Alex Beck.

State troopers will investigate the bus' condition and any faulty mechanics. They will also look at the driver's disposition right before he crash.

"We look at that because we don’t know at this point and we done rule anything out," said Capt. John Malone with the Alabama State Troopers.

The investigation into how this happened will also include the National Transportation Safety Board.

Victims and their families could use gift cards or gas cards to get back home to Texas. Cards can be dropped off at Coastal Church of Daphne located at on CR 64 in Daphne.

----- ORIGINAL STORY -----

One person has died and six are critically injured in a tour bus accident at mile marker 57 on eastbound I-10 in Baldwin County.

ALEA has confirmed that the driver of the bus, Harry Caligone of Houston, was killed.

The bus was carrying Houston-area Channelview High School students returning from a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando.

Sheriff Hoss Mack says the bus ran off the road and drove into a ravine around 5:45 this morning.

43 people were on board the charter bus when it crashed. It was around a 50-foot fall to the bottom of the ravine.

According to a sister of one of the students on board, the students were on their way home from a school band trip. There was a second bus carrying students from the school that was not involved in the crash.

Mack says the injured were taken to ten different hospitals in Baldwin County and Escambia County.

Six helicopters flew the injured to the hospitals.

The Sheriff’s Office has established a call center for family members to help locate loved ones. That number is 251-972-6807..

Mack said the Alabama State Police is in charge of the investigation. He expects I-10 eastbound to remain closed until noon.

Sacred Heart Hospital received 20 patients from the bus crash. 3 are in critical condition, 4 are in serious condition, and one adult is in surgery. The others have been treated and released.

Parents can pick up their child involved in the accident at Coastal Church - 1101 County Rd. 64 Daphne Alabama.

Channelview High School district Superintendent Greg Ollis released this statement Tuesday afternoon:

At this time we have been able to confirm that 40 students and 6 adults from Channelview were on the bus at the time of the accident. We are aware of numerous injuries.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency released the following statement 9 AM.

A single-vehicle crash at 5:33 a.m. today, March 13, has resulted in multiple injuries and one confirmed fatality. A tour bus carrying students from Channelview, Texas was travelling west on Interstate 10 when it left the roadway, traveled into the median and down an embankment. The crash occurred approximately three miles east of Wilcox near the 57 mile marker. Emergency response personnel from multiple agencies are on the scene. Injured passengers have been transported to various local hospitals in Baldwin County as well as Sacred Hospital in Pensacola, Florida. More information will be provided as it becomes available

The Baldwin County Sheriffs Office released the following:

The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office and numerous emergency personnel responded to Interstate 10 for a report of a passenger bus crashing into a ravine. Emergency personnel located and began the immediate evacuation of the passengers of the bus. Numerous passengers were evacuated via medical helicopters and ambulances.
The injured passengers have been taken to several different hospitals in Baldwin County, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida. There is at least one fatality reported. Passengers who are not injured have been taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Pensacola, Florida.
The accident scene is under investigation by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and the Alabama Department of Transportation. The scene is still active at this time and west bound I-10 remains closed. The crash occurred around 5:30am central time.

Statement by First Class Tours regarding today’s accident:

A serious accident has taken place involving a First Class Tours bus in Alabama this morning. The bus was carrying a group of band students from Channelview High School who were returning home to Houston from Orlando.
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.
Presently, this is all the information that we have to share. We will provide updates as additional information becomes available and it is appropriate to do so.

Governor Kay Ivey released the following statement about the fatal bus crash on I-10 in Baldwin County, Alabama:

I have spoken with my friend Texas Governor Greg Abbott after this morning’s tragic bus crash. I expressed my deepest sympathies, and have assured him that we will continue to pray for and do all we can to assist those affected by this event, especially the Channelview High School community. Governor Abbott expressed his sincere thanks for the tremendous efforts of our excellent first responders and was very complimentary of their quality and effectiveness. My team and I, including ALEA and EMA, have been and will continue to monitor this situation, and I have offered Governor Abbott any further assistance. I urge all Alabamians to remember how precious life is and to pray for those lost and injured in this incident.

United Airlines said they are also helping out in the efforts to reunite the families of the victims. According to United Airlines, they are offering transportation to individuals and families impacted by the bus crash. They added they're working directly with a Channelview High School representative to accommodate travel requests for students and families.

First Class Tours safety record

Texas Governor Greg Abbott today issued a statement after a bus carrying students from Channelview High School crashed in Alabama.

Cecilia and I are heartbroken by the news of this tragic accident, and we offer our prayers to all these young Texans and their families," said Governor Abbott. "I pray for a speedy recovery for all those injured, and I am especially grateful for the heroic actions of the Alabama first responders that undoubtedly helped save lives today. Texas is prepared to offer any assistance necessary as we rally around the entire Channelview High School community during this difficult time.

Coastal Church opening its doors to students involved in this morning’s deadly bus crash. Red Cross brought emotional support dogs:

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