NTSB details moments leading up to bus crash

NTSB team arrives at site of grade crossing collision in Biloxi. (NTSB photo via Twitter)
NTSB team arrives at site of grade crossing collision in Biloxi. (NTSB photo via Twitter)

BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) — “Pray,” Bastrop Police Chief Steve Adcock said as he updated the public and media on the deadly bus crash involving members of the Bastrop community.

The outpouring of support from the community, Adcock added, has been overwhelming. He said he’s had phone calls from car dealerships offering their vehicles and staff to drive to Biloxi to retrieve any stranded passengers.

All four of those killed in the collision have been identified. Clinton Havran, 79, of Sealy, Texas, and Deborah Orr, 62, of Bastrop, were named as victims Wednesday. The Harrison County coroner said Havran died at the scene, while Orr died following surgery at a local hospital.

Lockhart ISD identified two of the victims Tuesday as retired administrators Ken and Peggy Hoffman, who also died at the scene. In a letter to staff, LISD called the Hoffmans “colleagues, teachers and leaders in our community” who have made a mark on a generation of children. The Hoffmans were said to have sat in the same seats at the Lockhart football stadium since it was built. 

For those looking for a way to help, Adcock suggested a donation to a fund set up for the victims at First National Bank (Acct: 2142222)

Little information about the passengers who were on the bus when it was struck by a freight train has been made public in the hours following the crash. The Bastrop Police Chief Steve Adcock said he planned to release the names of the deceased at a 2 p.m. news conference but he found out moments before it began that the medical examiner in Mississippi was not yet ready to publically identify the victims.

The injuries, Adcock said, run from cuts and scrapes to broken bones and punctured organs.

Adcock said 7 to 10 of the passengers are already on a bus on their way home. They’re due back in Bastrop at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night. Chief Adcock invited the community to rally at First National Bank in Bastrop as a welcome home for the passengers.

Investigation into crash

The National Transportation Safety Board go team arrived in Biloxi Wednesday morning. Robert Sumwalt outlined the organization’s investigative efforts during a news conference Wednesday afternoon saying the group would be examining everything from the track, the geometry of the hump formed where the track meets the road as well as the bus driver’s driving record, health and training history.

There have been 17 collisions between trains and vehicles at that particular crossing since 1976, including Tuesday’s, Sumwalt said. Of those, three were deadly collisions.

Sumwalt detailed the moments leading up to the crash saying the train crew put the train into emergency braking mode about 510 feet prior to reaching the bus. The train was going 26 MPH when emergency braking began and slowed to about 19 MPH when it hit the bus, pushing it about 200 feet down the track.

He pointed out the crossing arms and flashing lights were equipped with a sign that provides a number to call in the event a vehicle gets stuck on the track.

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