RICHMOND COUNTY, N.C. — A charter bus carrying members of a Rock Hill football team struck an overpass bridge Saturday afternoon in Richmond County, killing four people and injuring dozens more, highway patrol said.
State troopers said they believe that around 2:30 p.m. the left front tire of the bus blew out, which caused it to slam into a median guardrail and sideswipe a concrete bridge column on Highway 74 near Hamlet.
Highway Patrol said Darice Hicks, 8, Teto Hamilton, 19, Devonte Gibson, 21, and bus driver Brian Andre Kirkpatrick, 43, died in the crash. Hicks, a third grader at Ebenezer Avenue Elementary, was the coach's son.
Forty-two people were injured and were all taken to area hospitals. A helicopter flew at least two people to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.
The bus was carrying a football team from Ramah Juco Academy in Rock Hill, a program that helps athletes who didn't qualify to play sports after high school get accepted into a college program. Many of the players are students at Clinton College, also in Rock Hill.
They were headed to play University of God's Chosen, a nonprofit university in Fayetteville.
Investigators reopened the highway around midnight, almost 10 hours after the crash.
One witness told Channel 9 that as many as 25 people stopped to help the victims.
Jennifer Newsome, of Salisbury, was one driver who pulled over. She jumped on the bus to see if there was anyone she could help.
"It was horrifying. I just can't explain it. It was heartbreaking. I felt like that's what I needed to do, to make sure everybody was off the bus and nobody was hurt,” Newsome said.
Classes are canceled at Clinton College Monday following the deaths of two students.
Two federal investigators will travel to North Carolina Monday to check the tires on the bus. National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Christopher O'Neil said in a statement that the agency hasn't decided whether a full investigation is needed.
Cox Media Group