Authorities Charge Bus Driver In Multi-Vehicle Accident On I-95
Posted April 18, 2003 11:09 a.m. EDT
WILSON, N.C. — It was a slow start to the holiday weekend for thousands of drivers after a multi-vehicle accident along Interstate 95.
Authorities say the accident occurred around 11 a.m. Thursday near mile marker 107 at the Wilson/Johnston County line. Authorities say a passenger bus drove into a tractor-trailer, which hit a mobile home towing another car.
Authorities have charged the bus driver, Donald Harris, for causing the accident. Some passengers on the bus claim Harris fell asleep.
"The driver fell asleep. He dozed off. He definitely doozed off. I was sitting right behind him. I saw the whole thing coming," bus passenger Ernest Stukes said.
"We were three seats away from the front and I was snoozing and all I heard was a whole lot of screaming and before I knew it, I hit my head and I saw this glass in the front," bus passenger Terry Kenlaw said.
Authorities say there were 47 passengers on the bus. Twenty-seven bus passngers were taken to Wilson Medical Center where they were later treated and released. Twenty passengers were taken to Johnston Memorial Hospital. All but one were treated and released from the hospital. One patient is listed in fair condition.
Tanya and Gary Thomas were on the bus on their way from New York to Georgia to visit Tanya's mother. They were both injured in the accident, but they turned their attention to other passengers.
"We were working together. I am in the health care field, so I was trying to keep my composure and help people in need," Tanya said.
Gary helped rescue a woman whose legs were pinned.
"Eventually, it was manpower -- myself, two firemen and the bus driver pulled the seat and the woman was able to free her leg," he said.
Traffic was rerouted to U.S. 301 while authorities worked to clean up the accident. The southbound lanes of I-95 reopened shortly before 5 p.m.
State troopers say the bus is leased by Carolina Coach Company of Raleigh and is part of a daily route from Richmond to Fayetteville.