Government agencies are taking notice of the nation's bus companies, working to pull unsafe operators off the roads – in the last two months, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Organization has conducted more than 13,500 roadside inspections with state enforcement partners. NBC's Tom Costello reports.
At least two people were killed and 36 injured Thursday when a bus carrying people to a casino overturned on a highway outside Dallas, authorities said.
The crash happened in the Dallas suburb of Irving. Video from NBC affiliate KXAS showed crews working to free trapped passengers and carrying people away on stretchers.
“People were screaming, on top of each other,” Dan Risik, who identified himself as a passenger on the bus, told KXAS. “I was on top of a friend of mine, and a woman was on top of me on my leg. I couldn’t move up, or what have you, until help arrived and they climbed through the windows.”
Risik said the bus was headed to Choctaw Casino Resort, just over the Oklahoma state line and about 90 miles from Dallas. Many of the passengers were elderly, Risik said.
Lm Otero / AP
Emergency responders works the scene of bush crash on the George Bush Turnpike on April 11, in Irving, Texas.
Lonny Haschel, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, confirmed the two deaths to KXAS. Rusty Wilson, the assistant fire chief of Irving, said 36 were injured. About an hour after the crash, Haschel said it was not clear whether passengers were still trapped inside.
The bus veered out of the northbound lanes of a state highway, struck a rubber roadside barrier, skidded back across the highway, hit a concrete barrier on the other side and overturned, Haschel said. The bus carved deep skid marks into the grass in the median and came to rest on its passenger side.
Ed Cluck said he helped pull a number of people from the bus before rescuers arrived.
“It was pretty bad, people screaming. There was obviously a lot of pain,” Cluck said. “You could see the people that were obviously in very bad pain and shape and you just couldn’t get to them because there were other people on top of them.”
The National Transportation Safety Board dispatched regional investigators to the scene of the accident.
Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas said it received 15 people transported from the crash. Las Colinas Medical Center in Irving said it was treating six passengers.
Dr. Alex Eastman, a trauma surgeon at Parkland, said that the patients ranged in age from about 66 to 80 years old. Four patients in critical condition were taken to Parkland. All of the patients in critical were talking when they arrived, Eastman said.
Authorities closed the highway and a nearby toll booth and set up a command center in the parking lot of a nearby bank. The National Transportation Safety Board sent investigators.
KXAS reported that Irving fire officials ordered all their trucks to help.
NBC News' Matthew DeLuca contributed to this report.
This story was originally published on Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:50 AM EDT