BALLINGER, Texas - One person has died and several were seriously injured in a major accident Friday afternoon involving an Abilene Christian University bus that rolled over with 16 people on board in Runnels County.
Several people were ejected from the 24-passenger bus after it rolled off Highway 83 about 65 miles south of Abilene in southern Runnels County.
Officials said the bus, driven by an ACU faculty member, left the highway at a slight curve, hit a culvert and overturned once. The roof and top half of the bus was ripped off the chassis by the collision, with seats left exposed on the highway.
At least one of the injured people is reported in critical condition at Shannon Hospital in San Angelo, a spokesperson at the hospital said.
ACU Chief of Police Jimmy Ellison said there were ?16 or 17 people? on the bus. Ellison said that there was a "communications problem" because of the remote location in southern Runnels County.
He added during a 6 p.m. news conference that ACU officials "don't have a lot of concrete information."
The Associated Press reported the bus was carrying three ACU faculty members and one faculty member's spouse, in addition to the students. Ellison said the driver of the bus was an ACU faculty member.
Ellison said there has been no word on what circumstances led to the accident. Witnesses at the scene told KTXS that this stretch of highway involves a slight curve and is considered a dangerous point where accidents have occurred before.
The crashed was located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 83 and County Road 234 in Runnels County.
The bus was traveling south, carrying ACU agricultural students from Abilene on a weekend mission trip to the Medina Children's Home in Medina, located 215 miles south of Abilene and southwest of Kerrville.
A website associated with the San Angelo Standard-Times reported that two people died in the crash, attributing the information to Tom Green County Emergency Coordinator Ron Perry. This report of two deaths, however, has not been confirmed by any other authorities.
Officials at the scene confirmed that one person was dead and that 15 were transported to area hospitals. The injured were taken to at least four area hospitals: Abilene, San Angelo, Ballinger and Winters.
Several emergency vehicles, including several helicopters from Abilene and surrounding areas, responded to the accident. The highway was closed at the scene of the accident.
Shannon Hospital in San Angelo told KTXS News that one of the injured is in critical condition there. She also reported that six others of the injured were at the hospital.
Numerous injuries are being treated at the Ballinger hospital, a hospital spokesman told KTXS News. Off-duty nurses were called in to help with the influx of injured from the accident, a spokesman said.
The spokesman said the scene at the Ballinger hospital was extremely busy handling the injuries.
According to ACU officials, the accident occurred about 3:20 p.m. on Highway 83 in southern Runnels County, just north of the Concho County line.
The accident location was about 65 miles south of Abilene and about 10 miles south of Ballinger and north of Paint Rock.
ACU officials said information would be available at this ACU information website: http://emergency.acu.edu/
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