Sherman, TX Chartered Bus Crash, Aug 2008
13 REPORTED DEAD IN TEXAS BUS CRASH.
Sherman, Texas - A bus carrying a group of Vietnamese Catholics on their way to a pilgrimage plunged off a Texas highway
early Friday morning, leaving at least 13 people dead and scores more injured.
The accident occurred just after midnight
near Sherman, Tex., about 60 miles north of Dallas, and may have been a result of a blown tire, although local police and federal regulators are still investigating the cause.
The bus had been chartered by members of two Houston churches who were traveling to Carthage, Mo., the site of an annual gathering of Vietnamese Catholics known as Marian Days.
The police who arrived at the scene of the crash found the smashed vehicle lying on its side just off a stretch of U.S. Highway 75. Baggage and bodies -some dead, some injured - were strewn amid the wreckage of glass and metal shards.
"You've got 50-something people laying everywhere," Tony Walden, a Sherman police officer, told The Dallas Morning News. "I don't even know how to describe it."
Twelve people died at the scene and another passenger died later at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, according to a hospital spokeswoman, April Foran. Dozens of injured passengers were transported to area hospitals by helicopter, and at least five were in critical condition. No one on the bus escaped injury.
Many of the passengers spoke only Vietnamese, the police said. "What do you say when you see bodies all over the place and screaming for help and they're
talking a language you don't understand?"
Lt. Robert Fair, of the Sherman police department, told The News. "That's pretty much the definition of chaotic."
The Houston-based operator of the bus, Angel Tours, was barred last month by federal regulators from making trips across state lines after being cited for several safety violations. The company had an 'unsatisfactory' safety rating from the federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
A 3 a.m. phone call of Friday alerted the Rev. Dominic Trinh to the crash, three members of his church, Our Lady of Lavang in Houston, had been killed, and others had been injured.
Father Trinh, the church's pastor, said that his parishioners had rented several buses and vans for the five-hour trip to Marian Days, an annual event named for the Virgin Mary and convened by a religious order called the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix. Thousands of Vietnamese Catholics travel to the group's headquarters in Carthage for the event, which began in the late 1970's.
This was the first year that the church had used the company for its trip, Father Trinh said. He was planning an evening mass for his mourning congregation.