At least four bus passengers were killed when a CSX freight train barreled into a casino-bound bus from Texas that reportedly became stuck on a railroad track in Biloxi, Mississippi, Tuesday afternoon. Dozens more people were injured, some critically.
The Biloxi SunHerald reported that the charter bus was carrying 46 people from the Austin, Texas, area on a six-day tour of the Gulf Coast. The tour bus was scheduled to stop at a Biloxi casino before continuing west to New Orleans when it got stuck on the tracks at Main Street around 2:10 p.m.
Most of the passengers are residents of the Bastrop Senior Center about 30 miles southeast of Austin. Other passengers included family members of the seniors, the New York Times reported. Almost every passenger appeared to have some injuries, Biloxi police chief John Miller said.
“It’s a terrible tragedy,” Chief Miller said at a press conference Tuesday. “It is a terrible, chaotic scene right now, but we have it under control.” He added that the crash was the worst he has seen in Biloxi.
Passenger Jim DeLaCruz told the New York Times that the bus, operated by Echo Transportation of Texas, got stuck while trying to cross the railroad tracks. Before long, the bus driver started yelling for everyone to get off the vehicle as a CSX train traveling from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama, barreled toward the bus, blowing its horn.
Passengers were still scrambling to get off the bus when the train struck the bus, tearing into the driver’s side of the bus and throwing people from their seats.
Investigators have not determined if a mechanical failure on the bus caused it to become stuck or if a track defect or some other problem that prevented the bus from crossing.
Echo Transportation operates a fleet of 113 vehicles and provides charter bus and van services for schools, tour groups, companies, and other organizations.