Buies Creek, NC — A Campbell University student was hit by a charter bus near campus in Harnett County Thursday afternoon, according to a university spokeswoman.
William Lawrence, a freshman from Belmont, was struck on U.S. Highway 421 in Buies Creek shortly before 3 p.m. He was taken to WakeMed, where he was listed in critical condition early Friday.
University officials said the driver told investigators that Lawrence did not look toward the bus as he was crossing the highway and that he didn't see the student until it was too late.
"He did not see the student until the student was in the middle of the road," said Britt Davis, the university's vice president of institutional advancement. "He said he put on the brakes. The student was walking very quickly but apparently, was unable to make it across."
Lawrence did not cross in a crosswalk, and authorities said he might have been wearing headphones when he walked into the bus' path.
Sierra Wilson was driving through the area when she saw the bus hit Lawrence.
"It sounded like two cars collided, but it was really a charter bus and a human," she said. Wilson saw Lawrence go flying into the air, and she stopped to help.
"He was in bad shape," she said.
A North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper, who was down the road when he saw the accident, also arrived at the scene quickly and was able to perform CPR on Lawrence, who was conscious and talking before he was airlifted to the hospital.
Witnesses, however, said he had severe head injuries.
U.S. 421 was closed for a short time after the crash, but it reopened around 4:30 p.m.
The bus was carrying 43 workers with the North Carolina Grower's Association from Kinston to Vass.
Alcohol was not a factor in the crash, troopers said, but the driver was asked to take a drug test. Those results are not immediately available.