Long Day for Passengers on Wrecked Bus
Posted August 1, 1996
ROANOKE RAPIDS — August 2, 1996 - 5:20 p.m. EDT
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An unidentified man from Vero, Florida is in critical condition and 22 others were treated for mostly minor injuries suffered in a Friday morning bus accident.
It happened on Interstate 95 two miles south of Roanoke Rapids at about 4 a.m. when witnesses say the Greyhound bus went into a creek where it was submerged in water almost up to its windows.
Many of the passengers were asleep when the truck veered off the road. They were taken to the Roanoke Rapids Civic Center to await information and other transportation.
Those with minor injuries were treated at Halifax Memorial Hospital. The critically injured man, who was on his way to Connecticut to his son's wedding, was airlifted to Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville. He was in the right, front passenger seat and went through the windshield.
The front of the bus collided with a tree on the creek bank where it came to rest.
An unidentified passenger (below, left) said the driver told everyone to exit through the front window of the bus.
The bus was en route from Florida to New York and was carrying 50 passengers. Investigators told WRAL TV5's Robert Carver that the bus was moving at about 75 miles-per-hour in heavy fog when the accident occurred. They said they would charge the driver with exceeding a safe speed. There were no other vehicles involved.
Some passengers told Carver that the driver, Russell Gordon of Richmond, Virginia (below, right), had fallen asleep. They said he had complained to Greyhound officials in Fayetteville, the last stop before the crash, that he was tired and over the limit of hours he could legally drive.
Gordon said he had driven to Fayetteville from Richmond before taking the wheel and that he wasnotover his limit.
Greg Coles (below, left), a Greyhound representative in Roanoke Rapids, told Carver that the 10-hour maximum driving rule was enforced by the company.
The American Red Cross and other volunteers have sheltered and fed the stranded passengers, provided them with clothing, and laundered the clothes they were wearing at the time of the accident.
Extra buses were on hand to load the passengers and their luggage, once the original bus was removed from the creek, and carry them on to their destinations.
Traffic was snarled on the busy corridor for several hours while crews worked to get the bus out of the water