Eleven injured in bus crash involving University of South Carolina student association in Mississippi

Bay ST. LOUIS, madam. — Eleven people were injured when a bus carrying University of South Carolina students blew a tire and crashed into a concrete barrier in Mississippi.

Mississippi state troopers said the driver and a student were seriously injured and taken to hospitals by helicopter, while nine other students were transported by ambulance after the crash Friday.

The 56 passengers were members of the university chapter of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and their guests, who were traveling to New Orleans for an event.

Troopers said the driver, 55-year-old Tina Wilson of Roebuck, South Carolina, was traveling west on Interstate 10 near Bay St. Louis when a tire blew and the bus struck a concrete barrier in the center. Bay St. Louis Police Chief Toby Schwartz said the bus sped away from the collision on two wheels before Wilson wrestled it back onto all four wheels. Schwartz told the Sun Herald of Biloxi that Wilson “needed every bit of strength in her body to hold onto that steering wheel long enough to get it back on the road.”

The windshield blew out and Wilson was ejected as the bus hit the ground. A student, Paul Clune, then ran over and grabbed the steering wheel, Schwartz said. Clune tried to maintain control until the bus came to a stop after nearly a quarter mile, WLOX-TV reported.

β€œIf that bus had fallen over, we would have had victims,” Schwartz said. β€œIt’s the bus driver and the student who saved these children. The bus driver is an incredible hero.”

The uninjured students were taken by school bus to another location and later taken to New Orleans. The highway was blocked for hours.

A spokesperson for the University of South Carolina said Saturday that it had no updates yet.

Troopers are investigating the crash of the bus operated by Dixon Motor Xpress of Chester, South Carolina. Owner Todd Dixon told The State of Columbia on Saturday that the crash was a “freak thing” and that his company has had no other accidents since its founding in 2019.

The company has a satisfactory safety rating, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In the previous two years, the company had passed an inspection and reported no accidents.

β€œWe have always had safe operations,” Dixon said. β€œWe keep everything in top shape and don’t cut corners, especially because we know we’re transporting people.”

Dixon praised Wilson, saying, “She has years of experience and instinctively she is a safe driver.”