Friday, October 31, 2014

Liberty bus crashes near tunnel

A Liberty University bus veered off the road, fell down a hill and crashed into the retaining wall near the entrance of the East Campus tunnel Saturday night, March 2.

Collision — A Liberty bus carrying 19 passengers crashed on East Campus Saturday night. Photo credit: Greg Leasure

The accident, which left the bus leaning at a 30-degree angle about 56 feet from the entrance to the tunnel, took place at the intersection of Liberty Mountain Drive and Towns Court around 8:30 p.m.

Freshman Jake Beerel and three friends boarded the bus at North Campus and were seated near the front when the crash occurred.

“We were just heading toward the bus stop at the tunnel and we started to drift,” Beerel said. “I first felt like something was wrong, and everybody started screaming.”

Beerel was released from the hospital Sunday morning, though he was still experiencing dizziness and nausea.

According to university spokesperson Johnnie Moore, the accident was handled with the utmost attention.

“Liberty University and Lynchburg Police responded to the scene of the accident immediately, and handled it all with the highest degree of care and professionalism,” Moore said. “Our entire community is grateful that none of the 19 passengers on board sustained serious injuries. Only four passengers were sent to Lynchburg General. They were sent only as a precaution for further evaluation, and each was released on the same evening.”

Liberty freshman Brian Travers witnessed the accident while sitting in the passenger seat of the car directly behind the bus.

“I saw it from the corner of my eye,” Travers said. “The bus was kind of driving along the sidewalk, and we looked at each other like, ‘Is this really happening?’ The bus kept on going until it crashed.”

Travers and his prayer group saw the bus go straight at the intersection before their own car turned left. As they made the turn, the bus drifted to the left and down the hill, appearing to bounce twice before stopping.

“When it stopped, all the lights were still on,” Travers said. “It was almost like a faint glow, and smoke was coming out from the bottom. My friends bolted out of the car, and I went to park and (then) ran down there as well.”

According to Travers, both Liberty and the Lynchburg police as well as medical crews converged on the scene minutes after it happened.

“Once we got down there, one of our guys called 911,” Liberty freshman Justin Liskowski said. “We were checking to see if anyone was underneath the bus.
Fortunately, no one was underneath the bus, and the people that were on (the bus) got out of the bus and laid down by the stairwell (near the tunnel).”

Crews made sure it was safe for everyone involved before workers began towing the bus back onto the road.

Around 10 p.m., police officers and crews from Bee Line Towing began removing the bus from the walkway near the tunnel, leaving displaced and broken bricks. The tunnel remained closed for the rest of the night as officials and crews investigated what happened.

Police have yet to release the cause of the accident.

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