1 dead, several hurt when bus plunges off suburban DC highway; crews extricate those trapped

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

1 dead, more hurt in bus crash outside DC

BETHESDA, Md. — A commuter bus plunged off a highway Wednesday outside the nation’s capital, killing one person and injuring about a dozen, including children, authorities said.

Parents and children were aboard the bus that fell 45 feet off a skyramp of the Capital Beltway and landed below along Interstate 270 in Bethesda about 4 p.m., said Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley.

Television footage of the scene showed crews in yellow jackets and helmets walking up ladders and crawling into the holed-out windows of the bus. Rescuers spread out tarp on the roadway where a woman lay with a brace around her neck and held a compress to her head.

Some children also sat in the triage areas surrounded by backpacks, including a girl with a white bandage wrapped around her head. A firefighter could be seen carrying a child in his arms, while others were taken away on stretchers.

Crews had to extricate four people trapped inside and two of them had life-threatening injuries, Montgomery County fire department spokesman Capt. Oscar Garcia said. At least eight people were taken to area hospitals, he said.

Ronna Borenstein, a spokeswoman for Suburban Hospital, said 11 patients were brought there. She said two adults were in fair condition and that five adults and four children were in good condition.

The severely damaged white bus, with green lettering reading “Wolf’s,” is sitting upright just over a jersey wall from a lane of I-270. Rescue workers have propped up ladders to reach inside the shattered windows.

A person who answered the telephone at Pennsylvania-based Wolf’s Bus Lines said she had no information about the crash.

Officials said the children were not public school students.

Montgomery County Council President Nancy Floreen said she was shocked to learn of what she called probably the worst accident in her 10 years in local public office.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of those people, those children,” Floreen said.

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