Local News

Greyhound Passenger: Crash Like 'Bad Roller Coaster Ride'

Posted January 2, 2008 11:20 a.m. EST
Updated January 3, 2008 9:30 a.m. EST

— Passengers aboard a Greyhound bus that rear-ended a flatbed truck Wednesday morning and flipped along a major highway likened the wreck to "a bad roller coaster ride."

Nearly 50 passengers were taken to local hospitals after the bus collided with the tractor-trailer at Raleigh Road and U.S. Highway 1, south of Henderson.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol said the bus failed to slow down when the truck slowed to make a left turn. The bus hit the truck, then ran off the right shoulder of the road, down and embankment and overturned.

Some passengers questioned whether the bus's driver fell asleep at the wheel. Trooper James Montgomery of the state Highway Patrol said the truck driver wasn't at fault in the wreck, but no charges have been filed yet against the bus driver.

"I heard someone scream and woke up," said Alex Hand, a passenger aboard the bus, which was bound for Raleigh. "I see what looked like a tractor-trailer in front of us. We hit it and it flipped us up and over a guardrail."

Emergency workers described the scene as chaotic with frightened passengers climbing out through windows and through the hatches on the top of the bus.

"Everybody's scared," passenger Elliott Wong-Shing said. "We were in an accident, and we don't know who's hurt or what's what."

The bus driver, Keith Lamont Small, 62, of Durham, and passenger Effie Pegeuef were airlifted to area hospitals. They were both in  the intensive care unit at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill Thursday morning.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, Gregory Jefferson, of Henderson, and his passenger, Angela Lynette Williams, 34, of Henderson, weren't injured.

Forty-one bus passengers were taken via a school bus to Maria Parham Hospital in Henderson. Five others were transported by ambulance and three others by private vehicles.

A hospital spokesman said none of the injuries, at the time, were life-threatening and that most were bumps and bruises. All of the patients were treated, released and on a bus bound for Raleigh Wednesday evening.

"My legs (were) hit up, (I) lost my tooth, busted my face inside and out," Wong-Shing said.

Elvis Latiolais, general manager of Carolina Trailways, a subsidiary of Greyhound, said the bus was traveling from Richmond, Va., and had stopped in Henderson before heading to Raleigh.

Southbound U.S. 1 was closed for more than four hours while crews cleared the scene. One of the northbound lanes of U.S. 1 was also closed. All lanes reopened by 3 p.m.

Dustin Clark, a spokesman for Greyhound, said it was common for Carolina Trailways to used Greyhound buses during busy times of travel.