Driver killed, dozens injured in crash of Houston-area charter bus in Alabama

Bus plunged off Interstate 10 early Tuesday morning

LOXLEY, Ala. - Here's the latest on the crash of a Houston tour bus that was returning to Texas from Disney World (all times local):

2:45 p.m.

A driver was killed and dozens of others were injured when a bus chartered by a Houston-area school district plunged into a ravine off Interstate 10 in Alabama.

Authorities in Baldwin County, Alabama, confirmed that the bus was carrying at least 45 people when it traveled into the median around 5:30 a.m. near Loxley and fell into a 50-foot ravine.

The driver of the bus, identified as Harry Caligone, died at the scene, and the injured were taken to 10 different hospitals in the region, authorities said. Of the injured, one was listed in critical condition, five were listed in serious condition and the others had minor injuries, authorities said.

Officials at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Florida, said the facility received 20 patients from the crash. Four of those patients suffered serious injuries, and 13 have been treated and released, officials said.

Officials at the University of South Alabama Medical Center said the hospital had received one patient, who was listed in stable condition.

A call center was established at 251-972-6807 for family members looking for their relatives who were aboard the bus, authorities said.

A spokesman for Channelview ISD confirmed that the bus was chartered by the district and was bringing students home from a trip to Disney World.

Channelview ISD Superintendent Greg Ollis said it appears that the students and adults who were injured in the crash will recover.

Additional reporting by KRPC, Channel 2 in Houston, and the Associated Press.

9:40 a.m.

A sheriff says about 45 people were on board a bus that was carrying Texas high school students home from a Disney World trip when it plunged into a ravine near the Alabama-Florida line, killing one.

Baldwin County Sheriff Huey Hoss Mack says all of the people on board were brought to 10 hospitals in Alabama and Florida.

The sheriff says the bus entered the median on Interstate 10 and then fell into the 50-foot ravine Tuesday at about 5:30 a.m. It wasn't immediately clear why. The interstate was closed down in both directions after the crash.

9:05 a.m.

One person is dead after a charter tour bus carrying students on a school trip from Houston, Texas, plunged into a ravine near the Alabama-Florida line.

Baldwin County Sheriff Huey Hoss Mack confirmed the death Tuesday morning while talking to new reporters.

Baldwin County Sheriff's Office Major Anthony Lowery said the bus plunged off Interstate 10 into a deep ravine early Tuesday and multiple helicopters responded.

WKRG-TV is reporting that 12 to 20 people have been injured, and that officials say the bus was returning to Houston from a school trip.

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(Original Story)

A charter bus carrying high school band members home to Texas from Disney World plunged into an Alabama ravine early Tuesday, and numerous children were being carried by helicopters to emergency rooms.

Al.com reported that injuries range from minor to critical, and that at least one critically injured passenger was taken to the University of South Alabama Hospital, the only level one trauma center in the region.

Mike Burke, a spokesman at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Florida, said about 20 patients had been brought to the hospital by ambulance and helicopter, “and more are on the way.”

“We have multiple injuries; the bus went down into a ravine,” said Chris Elliott, a Baldwin County commissioner who helped out at the county emergency management center following the crash. “The fire department and officers are having to rappel down into the area to get into it.”

Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office Major Anthony Lowery said the bus ran off the highway before dawn. An image of the wreckage shows the crumpled bus landed on its side, reportedly more than 50 feet below the shoulder of the highway.

Helicopters and ambulances took the injured to three hospitals in Mobile and Pensacola, Florida, plus a free-standing emergency room in rural Baldwin County, Elliott said.

“Everybody is being transferred to a hospital to at least be checked out,” said Elliott.

Sheriff Huey Moss Mack says Interstate 10 has been closed in both directions. Traffic has been diverted and Alabama State troopers are asking people to avoid the area.

Channelview Independent School District spokesman Mark Kramer confirmed in a statement that the accident involved a charter bus carrying Channelview High School band members. Kramer said immediate details were limited and school authorities are in contact with law enforcement in Alabama to get more information.

One image posted on the band’s Facebook page hours before the crash showed a large group posing outside Disney World.

This is a developing story. Stay with KSAT 12 both online and on-air for more information.

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