Car going wrong way hits Greyhound bus head-on in Ala., 1 dead, 20 injured

Sunday, April 1, 2007

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- A car going the wrong way on a divided highway collided head-on with a Greyhound bus early Saturday, killing the driver of the car and injuring 20 others, police said. Panicked passengers crawled out the bus' windows after the crash.

The bus driver had tried to evade the oncoming car, police and a passenger said. Heather Marie Thomas, 23, was driving southbound in a northbound lane of Interstate 85, police Lt. Mark Drinkard said. Police said they did not know why the car was in the wrong lane or whether alcohol was involved.

After the crash, panic erupted in the bus because the door was jammed shut and the car was smoking, raising a threat of fire, passenger Clint Cannon said.

"People were screaming. They were handing babies out the windows," Cannon said. "It was a frenzy. There were people screaming 'Calm down!' There were people trying to push each other out of the windows. They thought the bus was going to explode."

Drinkard said 20 people were taken to two hospitals for treatment of minor injuries.

The bus driver did all he could to try to avoid the oncoming car, said Cannon, a construction worker from Asheville, N.C., who was returning home from a job in New Orleans.

"When the bus would turn right, the car would turn right. When the bus would turn left, the car would turn left," he said.

Police Maj. David Warren also said the bus driver prevented the accident from being worse. "The bus driver did an excellent job, not letting the bus turn over," he said.

The bus, carrying 49 passengers and two drivers, had just left the Montgomery terminal and was headed for Columbus, Ga., and then on to Atlanta, Greyhound spokeswoman Anna Folmsbee said. It had arrived from Houston.

Relief buses were brought in to take uninjured passengers on to their destination once they are ready to travel, Folmsbee said.

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