Four college softball players are dead and at least 15 others injured after a tractor trailer veered across the median of a Texas interstate Friday and collided with a bus carrying the North Central Texas College women’s softball team.
The crash occurred on Interstate 35 near the Oklahoma-Texas border around 9 p.m. Friday as the bus was headed back to Gainesville, Texas, after a scrimmage against Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Okla.
Oklahoma authorities investigating the crash told the Associated Press that “right now, it’s being investigated like a homicide.”
“Something happened to cause [the tractor trailer] to depart the roadway and impact the bus, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Captain Ronnie Hampton told the AP.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is also investigating the crash.
The tractor trailer, driven by Russell Staley, 53, of Saginaw, Texas, was headed northbound on I-35 when it veered into the southbound lanes. The truck continued to travel after smashing into the side of the bus until it toppled off the roadway. Mr. Staley survived the crash and has undergone toxicology tests, but the results have not been made public.
North Central Texas College President Brent Wallace called the crash “the most traumatic event that NCTC has had in its 90 years of history” at a press conference Saturday at the university.
Capt. Hampton told the AP that three of the players died at the crash site and a fourth died later at a nearby hospital Sulphur, Okla.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol identified the women killed as Meagan Richardson, 19; Brooke Deckard, 20; Katelynn Woodlee, 18; and Jaiden Pelton, 20. All of the women were native to towns in the Gainesville, Texas, area.
Bailey Buchanan, 18, was taken to Oklahoma University Medical Center and is listed in critical condition. Rachel Hitt, 19, was listed in fair condition at Norman Regional Hospital, a hospital spokesperson told ABC News Radio.