Frederick, MD Bus Accident On Jug Bridge, Aug 1985


Frederick, Maryland -- The Frederick area was still reeling Monday morning as investigators continued to probe one of the worst accidents on the Interstates in many years.
The driver and four passengers were killed Sunday afternoon and the 12 other passengers injured, some seriously, when the chartered bus they were riding westbound slammed into Jag Bridge on I-70, just east of the Frederick city limits.
The bus, transporting residents from the Baltimore area, was on its way to the Charles Town Turf Club, Charles Town, West Virginia, when the tragedy occurred.
Maryland State Police said the Baltimore Motor Coach Co. bus, carrying the driver and 16 passengers from Baltimore, was traveling "at an apparent high rate of speed" and was sliding sideways across the bridge when the right front slammed into the concrete railing. The impact sent the bus bouncing off the opposite side of the bridge "like a ball in a pinball machine," police said.
A team of accident reconstructionists took measurements of marks on the road and scrapes on the concrete railings on Sunday. State police said Monday it will be several days before the team finishes reconstructing the accident as to how the accident occurred.
Investigators of the National Transportation Safety Board also responded to the scene. State Police said the board investigates accidents involving public transportation.
GEORGE BROWN, 68, Baltimore, the driver, and a passenger possibly sitting in the front seat of the bus were ejected upon initial impact, state police said.
BROWN, who died several hours after the accident, landed in a wooded area about 165 feet below the bridge. The male passenger, who died on impact, landed on the bank of the Monocacy River.
Most of the passengers on the bus were ejected as it bounced off the sides of the bridge, Tfc. Tim Miller said. Many suffered extensive head and internal injuries.
The right front of the bus was ripped away, exposing brown upholstered seats, some of them blood-stained.
The first fire and rescue units, to arrive on the scene described the bridge as being similiar to a "battlefield" with bodies and debris strewn throughout.
United Chief Mark Fisher set up a command post at the eastern end of the bridge and asked for additional ambulances, squads and helicopters.
Due to the heavy fog in the area, the local state police helicopter was grounded. However, helicopters from U.S. Park Police, Fairfax Police and MedStar responded to the scene. The helicopters landed one behind the other on a grassy median strip near the west end of the bridge.
Dispatchers at Central Alarm notified Frederick Memorial Hospital of the incident and the possible number of patients they could expect. The hospital initiated its disaster plan, which included calling in additional personnel.
In addition, Dr. David Frazier, Donna Seelye, R.N., and Marlene Hartman, R.N., of the FMH emergency department, responded to the scene to assist with the injured.
Ms. Seelye climbed down over the embankment to assist with the treatment of GEORGE BROWN, who was flown from the scene to Suburban Hospital.
John Droneburg, a paramedic with Uniteds, acted as triage officer. He had another paramedic check with each ambulance crew as to the number and seriousness of their patients. Droneburg made a list of the injured and kept FMN advised of the count and when each ambulance left the scene en route to the hospital.
A temporary morgue was set up at the western end of the bridge. Dr. Robert J. Thomas, medical examiner for Frederick County, examined the bodies and ordered them sent to the state medical examiner's office in Baltimore for autopsies.
Killed in the 12:44 p.m. accident were HARRY BERNSTEIN, 76; GEORGE BROWN, 68; DUXIE LEE; FLOYD BROWN, 64, all of Baltimore; and IRVING MYERS, 81, of Glen Burnie.
Frederick Memorial Hospital received 11 patients by ambulance. Four were treated and released, one was transfered to Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems and six were admitted, according to Donna Hargett, R.N., nursing supervisor.
Listed in critical condition Monday morning at FMH were VIOLA NUNN and MAX ASKIN, 69, while LOUIS PIZZA, 50, WEBSTER CLARK, 57, WILLIAM BIRKETT, and JOHN C. SEMSKI, 59, were in stable condition. All are residents of Baltimore.
REATHELLA REED, also of Baltimore, was listed Monday morning in serious condition at Washington County Hospital, Hagerstown.
There was a bent, muddy sign on the back of the bus: "Race Track Express."

The News Frederick Maryland 1985-08-26