Deadly N.C. Bus Crash Leaves 4 Dead, 42 Injured

Four people are dead and 42 have been injured after a bus carrying a South Carolina football team crashed into an overhead bridge and caused US 74/I-74 to close on Saturday, according to a report from WSOC.

The deadly North Carolina bus crash occurred at around 2:35 p.m. on N.C. 177, near exit 316 and Rockingham, which is about 70.5 miles east of Charlotte. Authorities are currently investigating the crash, but believe that the bus blew its front tire, which caused the vehicle to swerve and collide with a guardrail. The bus then violently sideswiped a concrete bridge road column.

North Carolina Highway Patrol spokesperson Lt. Jeff Gordon says that some of the victims were actually ejected from the bus when it crashed. He also added that friends, family members, and relatives of some of the players were all following the bus when the accident took place. They immediately pulled over after witnessing the crash to help tend to the injured.

Gordon said that it could take investigators months before they are finally able to reconstruct the accident and finalize all of their findings. He described the degree of the accident as being "pretty horrific."

The bus was carrying 46 passengers, all of whom were college students from South Carolina's Ramah Jucco Academy, and was headed towards the University of God's Chosen. At least eight of the injured victims from the bus crash are in serious condition at Firsthealth Richmond Memorial Hospital.

All of the injured were taken to different nearby hospitals with authorities saying that the injuries ranged from minor to critical.

Demetrius Hellingsworth, the president of the University of God's Chosen, who also coaches the school's football team, told WRAL-TV that the students and coaches from Ramah Juco Academy were travelling from Rockhill to Raeford to play them. According to Hellingsworth, the game between the two colleges had been planned since late July and that the two teams were even planning to have a family style meal afterwards.

Both teams consist of mostly community college and junior college students who want to play football, but attend schools that do not have football teams. Many of the players from the Ramah team are attending Clinton College in Rockhill, South Carolina.

"A parent of one of the football players came up and said that there was a bad accident and my heart just dropped," said Hellingsworth.

He later posted on his Facebook page asking everyone to offer prayers to coach Bakari Rawlinson and the student-athletes involved in the crash.

A photo posted by WECT on Twitter showed just how badly the driver's side of the bus was damaged after the crash, with emergency personnel attempting to move one of the injured onto a stretcher.

Ramah Juco's website states that their program is still new and they require all of their student athletes to attend one of the local colleges in their area.

Other photos posted by WSCO-TV reporter Elsa Gillis on her Twitter account showed the extent of the damage suffered by the bus, describing it as being simply "hard to look at."

State troopers closed westbound lanes on I-74 as they continued to investigate. The crash scene was still active as of 11:30 p.m. EST and the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NC DOT) said that the area probably won't be clear until about 1 a.m.

[Featured Image by IQoncept/Shutterstock]