Charter bus carrying Texas high school band members plunges into Alabama ravine

A charter bus carrying Texas high school band members home from Disney World plunged into a ravine before dawn Tuesday in Alabama, killing the driver and injuring many passengers, authorities said.

In total, 12 to 20 passengers sustained injuries in the crash. One person was hospitalized in critical condition and five others were listed in serious condition. The other victims are being treated for non-life threatening injuries.

The bus was carrying at least 45 people. 

"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."

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

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

The bus was returning to Houston, Texas, after a school trip around 5:30 a.m. when it crashed into a highway median on Interstate 10 and plunged into Cowpen Creek in Baldwin County, Sheriff Huey Hoss Mack said in a news conference.

More than a dozen fire departments from Alabama and Florida responded to the scene and worked to remove the trapped passengers — Channelview High School band students who were at Disney World in Florida — in the ravine. Several officers entered the ravine to pull students out of the wreckage, according to Mack.

At least six helicopters were also used in the rescue efforts. Several people also had to be "cut out" of the wreckage.

It’s unclear what caused the bus to fall into the ravine. Another bus that was traveling with the vehicle was not involved in the crash and continued the drive to Texas.

"Cecilia and I are heartbroken by the news of this tragic accident, and we offer our prayers to all these young Texans and their families," Texas Governor Greg Abbott said. "I pray for a speedy recovery for all those injured, and I am especially grateful for the heroic actions of the Alabama first responders that undoubtedly helped save lives today. Texas is prepared to offer any assistance necessary as we rally around the entire Channelview High School community during this difficult time."

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