The Latest: Bus was carrying tour from Texas senior center

AP News
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Posted: Mar 07, 2017 9:13 PM
The Latest: Bus was carrying tour from Texas senior center

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on a train-bus crash in Biloxi, Mississippi (all times local):

8 p.m.

A bus hit by a train in Mississippi — killing four people — was carrying people on a trip organized by a Texas senior center.

A flier for the tour says some passengers boarded Sunday in Austin, Texas, and others boarded about 30 miles east in Bastrop, Texas. Bastrop Senior Center President Barbara Adkins tells Texas media that 22 of the tourists were members, who describes as "family."

The tour group was transferring Tuesday from a casino in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, to one farther east in Biloxi. Travelers were scheduled to visit New Orleans later and return home Saturday.

In 2013, a bus with passengers from the Bastrop Senior Center hit a pickup truck in southwest Louisiana on another casino trip. Of the 46 people on that trip, 12 were taken to a hospital, mostly with minor injuries.

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7:30 p.m.

At least one witness to a bus-train crash in Biloxi says the railroad crossing there poses a problem for vehicles because of a steep climb on each side to get over an embankment.

Mark Robinson tells the Sun Herald of Biloxi on Tuesday that many vehicles have gotten stuck at the crossing.

Federal records show 16 accidents have occurred at the crossing since 1976. Accidents in 1983 and 2003 each involved one fatality. A delivery truck was struck at the same crossing in January, WLOX-TV reports. No one was injured in that crash.

The Main Street crossing has warning lights, bells, a crossing arm and a sign warning of low clearance.

The city announced last month that it and railroad CSX Transportation have agreed to close six of Biloxi's 29 crossings, citing in part vehicles that get stuck on inclines. The Main Street crossing wasn't marked for closure.

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The company that owns the tour bus involved in a Biloxi crash that killed four people and injured dozens has a "satisfactory" safety rating from a federal agency.

Over the past two years, Echo Transportation only had one injury-causing crash and no fatalities, according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Five other crashes resulted in tows.

Only two of the company's 113 vehicle inspections resulted in a bus being taken out of service.

Safety records show Echo based in Dallas, while corporation records list a mailing address in nearby Grand Prairie. Elisa Fox, a lawyer for the company, says it's mobilizing to assess the situation.

Motor Carrier Safety Administration spokesman Duane DeBruyne says the agency will help inspect the bus and investigate the driver's record.

The National Transportation Safety Board says it's sending investigators Wednesday.

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6:45 p.m.

A city official says authorities are raising the death toll in a bus-train crash to four.

Officials initially said four people died in the Tuesday crash and then revised it down to three. But Vincent Creel, a spokesman for the city of Biloxi, now says after consulting with the coroner's office that they can confirm that four were killed in the incident.

Creel emphasized that it's a "very fluid situation." He said "... Any time you have a major incident like this, the information can change."

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An official says 48 passengers and a driver were on the bus hit by a train in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Vincent Creel, a spokesman for the city, says a bus manifest had listed 50 passengers but two of them did not make the trip.

A freight train smashed into the charter bus Tuesday, pushing the bus 300 feet down the tracks.

Michelle Crowley of the Biloxi fire department says 40 people were injured. Of those, seven were in critical condition.

Biloxi Fire Chief Joe Boney says rescuers needed one hour and four minutes to clear everyone from the wreckage. Two people had to be cut out of the bus.

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6 p.m.

Authorities are lowering the death toll in a bus-train crash in Biloxi, Mississippi. Fire Chief Joe Boney says three people died and 35 people were injured and taken to area hospitals after Tuesday's crash. Earlier Boney had said that four people died, three of them at the scene and a fourth after being taken from the scene. He did not immediately explain the discrepancy.

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5:55 p.m.

A woman who lives about a block from where a train and bus finally came to a stop after the train crashed into the bus says she heard a "loud boom" and knew immediately what had happened.

Cecelia McDonald says she ran out of her house and saw a scene of carnage.

A freight train smashed into a charter bus in Biloxi, Mississippi, on Tuesday, pushing the bus 300 feet down the tracks and leaving three people dead.

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4 p.m.

A spokesman for CSX Transportation says the freight train that hit a tour bus in Biloxi, Mississippi, was headed from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama, at the time of the deadly crash. Gary Sease says the train had three locomotives and 52 cars. He says the train crew was not injured.

The bus belongs to Echo Transportation, a Grand Prairie, Texas-based company. A lawyer for the company said officials were mobilizing to respond, but he declined to comment further. Biloxi Police Chief John Miller has said that three people were killed after the train hit the charter bus Tuesday before 2:15 p.m. in the Mississippi Gulf Coast city.

He says the bus was carrying passengers from Austin, Texas, and appears to have been stopped on the tracks at the time of the crash. He says the bus had up to 50 people and that a majority of the other passengers were also injured.

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3:15 p.m.

A train has collided with a charter bus in Biloxi, Mississippi, causing an unknown number of deaths and injuries.

Biloxi city spokesman Vincent Creel says emergency responders were still removing injured people from the bus more than 30 minutes after the crash Tuesday.

Creel says a CSX train headed eastbound hit the bus at a crossing in downtown Biloxi just before 2:15 p.m., pushing the bus about 300 feet down the tracks.

He says a nearby hospital is setting up a triage unit at the site to treat the injured.

Creel says as many as 50 people were on the bus. He said there are deaths and injuries, but he could not immediately quantify them.

Charter buses often carry patrons to casinos in Biloxi, but Creel says he doesn't know where this bus was headed.