At least two people were killed and about three dozen were hospitalized after a charter bus careened off a Texas highway and flipped onto its side Thursday, drawing a large emergency response as rescue crews struggled to reach victims inside, authorities said.
The Cardinal Coach Line bus was traveling just east of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Irving when it suddenly weaved across the busy highway, struck a concrete barrier and toppled over into the center median, witnesses said. The cause of the accident was not immediately clear.
"We ended up swirling and weaving and then ended up on the side," passenger Daniel Risik, 73, told The Dallas Morning News. "People were screaming and hollering, a very traumatic situation to say the least."
The bus, which was carrying about 45 people, was headed to a casino in Oklahoma, officials said. Risik said most people aboard the bus weren't wearing seat belts.
"People were piled on top of each other," he said. "It was unbelievable. A lady had pinned me. Rescue got there and started pulling people out of a roof emergency hatch. People were hollering, screaming, there was blood all over the place. It was unbelievable."
Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Lonny Haschel confirmed that two people were killed. About three dozen people were being treated at local hospitals, many of them suffering from fractured bones, hospital officials said.
Emergency vehicles could be seen swarming the bus as it lay in the grassy center median along the President George Bush Turnpike. Ladders were being used to pull passengers from some broken windows. Witnesses said one person appeared to be pinned by the bus which picked up passengers in Fort Worth.
A man who answered the phone at Cardinal Coach's offices in Mansfield, just south of Dallas, confirmed that one of the company's buses was involved in the Irving accident. But said he didn't have time to talk because he was trying to gather information about the crash.
Cardinal Coach has reported no crashes in the last two years that resulted in deaths or injuries, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The company operates five buses and employs seven drivers, records show.