UPDATE: Church bus crash kills 1 in Miss.; 23 injured

MERIDIAN — John Anderson of Shreveport, La., said he’s still in shock, but he’s holding it together after tragedy unfolded instantly right before his eyes while traveling with church members near Meridian.

“All our children were on that bus,” said Anderson, a First Baptist Church of Shreveport member who was on the bus that crashed aout 10 a.m. Sunday on Interstate 20/59 in east Mississippi, killing one person and injuring 23 others.

The church group was heading to a youth camp in Macon, Ga.

“One of the rear tires blew out and the bus started fish tailing and went out of control and flipped over three times,” Anderson told WTOK-TV in Meridian.

Most of those aboard were children, including Anderson’s daughter who was a camp counselor who’s pregnant but was not hurt.

“The church bus had a blow out that caused it to veer to the left and back to the right off the road on the south side of the highway, overturned at rest,” said Sgt. Herman Bouldin with the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

The bus rolled three times, Lauderdale County Coroner Clayton Cobler III said. He said at least two passengers were trapped underneath the bus. A group of National Guard soldiers was on the highway at the time and helped extricate the injured.

“The National Guardsmen actually picked the bus up off the two people and got them out,” Cobler said.

An 18-year-old male was pronounced dead at Jeff Anderson Hospital, Cobler said. His name was not released.

Three people were airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Their conditions were not known Monday.

“It’s tough on all of us because we know these kids and they are all like family,” Anderson said.

Cobler said injuries ranged from severe pelvic, back and chest injuries to scrapes and scratches.

An official at Regency Hospital of Meridian said six people were taken there and another official at Rush Foundation Hospital said 13 people were being treated there.

Anderson said many of those injured were released from hospital late Sunday and were waiting for transportation back to Shreveport.

Anderson said local churches have helped.

“It’s just been a remarkable show of Christian love and we couldn’t be more thankful,” Anderson said.

The Shreveport congregation learned of the accident shortly before Sunday morning worship and used the occasion to rally together in prayer.

“Our congregation is leaning on our faith and confidence in God,” First Baptist senior pastor Greg Hunt said in statement placed on the church’s Web site.

The Associated Press

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