LOXLEY, Ala. – A charter bus carrying Texas high school band members home from Disney World plunged into a ravine on Interstate 10 in Alabama before dawn Tuesday, killing one person and injuring many others.
An Alabama state trooper said the bus driver died after the crash. More than 40 passengers on the bus were taken to 10 hospitals across southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle to be evaluated, but the total number of injuries wasn't yet known.
First responders had to rappel down a 50-foot ravine in the middle of Interstate 10 to reach them, and helicopters brought survivors to hospitals, a sheriff said. Alabama and Florida state troopers were diverting motorists off the interstate onto Highway 90.
The bus plunged into the ravine between the eastbound and westbound lanes of I-10 at about 5:30 a.m., Baldwin County Sheriff Huey Hoss Mack said at a news conference.
"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."
An image of the wreckage shows the crumpled bus landed on its side, far below the pavement. The interstate was closed down in both directions as helicopters and ambulances took the injured to hospitals including emergency rooms in Mobile and Pensacola, Florida, plus a freestanding emergency room in rural Baldwin County, Elliott said.
"Everybody is being transferred to a hospital to at least be checked out," said Elliott.
Mark Kramer, spokesman for Channelview Independent School District, which is in a Houston suburb, confirmed 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.