By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
CALHOUN CITY – The school bus-truck collision that killed three adults and sent several Choctaw County students to hospitals for treatment was noted over and over as almost unbelievable.
One incredible aspect was the destruction. Had it not been attached to the rest of the vehicle, the front of the bus most directly involved would have been hardly recognizable as that of a school bus. The vehicle knocked off a large section of concrete bridge railing, suspending part of its rear end over the dropoff. The truck was equally demolished, witnesses said.
“It was one of the worst wrecks I’ve ever seen,” said Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Brian Mobley.
MHP Capt. Randy Ginn observed, “After a certain point, they’re all bad.”
Calhoun City Assistant Fire Chief Larry Goodwin said the smashed vehicles, broken railing and the number of potential victims also made it one of the most arresting sights he’s seen in more than three decades as a volunteer firefighter.
Just as astounding, though, was that there were not even more casualties.
“Those kids walked off the bus on their own power,” Goodwin said.
As the word got out about the wreck, Choctaw County families sped toward Calhoun City to check on their loved ones. Willie Lane of Ackerman was with two carloads of his family who came to see about his daughter, Tykeya.
“We got word she was taken to the hospital in Calhoun City,” he said. “She was hurt in her side, bruised real bad.” The Lane family gave up waiting for traffic to be restored and sought a backroads detour that would get them reunited.
Mayor Dick Cain of Ackerman said everyone in his community is affected by the wreck.
“It’s had a tremendous impact. In a town of 1,800 or so, everybody knows everybody,” he said.
Cain added that Choctaw County hospital officials are offering to examine and treat without charge today any students with possible injuries that were not apparent on the scene Tuesday. He also noted that while plans are in the beginning stages, Choctaw Countians will undoubtedly host a communitywide gathering to mourn their losses and celebrate those who survived.
“As horrible as it is, it’s still a miracle that there weren’t more killed and injured,” he said. “We were extremely lucky.”
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.