At least seven people were hurt Wednesday morning following a bus crash in Scott County, according to Arkansas State Police. Now, the driver, Andre Burnside, facing charges for careless driving according to Trooper Brian Burke with Arkansas State Police.
The accident occurred shortly after 6 a.m. when a passenger bus with Jefferson Bus Lines crashed into a wooded area near Hwy. 71, north of the Polk County line.
“It was just a big jolt, like I hit a brick wall,” explained Sean Wade, a passenger on the bus at the time of the crash. “It was just like I started sliding underneath the front seat that was in front of me.”
“People were screaming because we didn’t know where we were going to go to,” said passenger Matthew Conley. “I didn’t know if I was going to go off a cliff, into water, if we were going to hit a bridge.Trees were all we hit and that was good.”
Arkansas State Police at the scene of the crash said it appears the bus crashed after the driver fell asleep at the wheel. Passengers from the bus said the driver appeared to be drowsy early into their trip and swerved multiple times as they traveled south on Hwy 71.
“Before that, he was swerving all over the road and everything,” Roger Ring, another passenger on the bus, told 5NEWS. “I knew something was fixing to happen.”
“He said that he fell asleep and was not able to correct it in time, he’d already run off the side of the road,” said Trooper Brian Burke with Arkansas State Police.
None of the injuries were life-threatening. Seven people were taken to the hospital, all with minor injuries. Others injured were treated at the scene.
Authorities said Burnside was among those hurt. He suffered a broken ankle during the crash.
“No one was hurt too badly,” explained Connley. “It was nothing too serious. I’m just happy that we all made it out.”
The motorcoach was on a scheduled line run between Kansas City, Mo., and Texarkana, Ark., according to Dan Ronan, Senior Director of Communications with the American Bus Association.
Arkansas State Police said the uninjured passengers were taken to the Y-City Fire Station, where Jefferson Lines brought in a backup bus from Fort Smith to pickup them up and take them to Texarkana.