Six dead after bus rams tractor-trailer in northern Louisiana

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

TALLULAH, La. -- A church bus from Texas slammed into a tractor-trailer Monday on Interstate 20, killing six people and injuring at least nine.

The driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel before the bus veered into the truck, which was pulled over on the right shoulder, state police spokesman Lt. William Davis said.

Fifteen people, including the driver, were on the bus when it crashed around 11 a.m. west of this northeastern Louisiana town.

Louisiana State Police initially said five people had died, but later revised the death toll to six.

The bus was from the First Baptist Church of Eldorado, Texas. A woman who answered the phone at the church Monday afternoon confirmed that the bus was from the church but would not give her name or any details. The West Texas town of about 2,000 is some 160 miles northwest of San Antonio.

Police said the bus was en route to Vicksburg, Miss., over the state line and just a few miles east of the crash scene.

An aerial view from a television helicopter showed the bus, with the words First Baptist Church on the side, embedded in the back left portion of the 18-wheeler trailer. The front of the bus was heavily damaged.

The bus and the truck, loaded with raw cotton, remained upright on the side of the road. The truck driver was inside his cab when the accident happened but was not injured. He told authorities he pulled over because he was having trouble with his brakes, trooper Julie Lewis said.

Traffic in the eastbound lane of I-20 was shut down for about 20 miles between Tallulah and Waverly.

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