CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia State Police (VSP) are investigating after a charter bus flipped on the Powhite Parkway around 7:15 p.m. on Sunday, injuring 34 people.
On Monday, VSP sent out new information saying that “speed was a factor in the cause of the crash.”
“The charter bus was traveling south on the Powhite Parkway when it took the ramp to Chippenham Parkway south,” police said. “As the bus came through the curve of the ramp, the driver lost control and the bus overturned onto its side.”
State police are working with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to investigate the crash.
The bus, operated by Abbott Bus Lines of Roanoke, had 50 people on board, including two drivers. Police say the passengers were mainly students picked up in Richmond who were returning to campuses of Virginia Tech and Radford University.
Radford University released a statement to 8News, which reads:
As of Monday morning, Radford University can confirm to-date that 14 Radford University students have been reported injured in the “Home Ride” bus accident Sunday evening in Richmond. According to the bus operator, a total of 31 Radford University students were registered as passengers on the bus.
Of those 12 students, nine were known to have been transported to VCU Medical Center. RU students transported to VCU include seven who received treatment and were released as of early this morning, and two who remained under observation at VCU as a precaution. There is no additional releasable information regarding the other five injured students.
Radford University has begun reaching out to the RU students who were passengers on the bus to ascertain their well-being, as well as to coordinate notification with their respective instructors about missed classes and make available, as needed, assistance from the university’s student health center and counseling services.
8News has requested a statement from Virginia Tech and is waiting to hear back as of Monday afternoon.
There were several injuries, mostly bumps, bruises and cuts. There were no fatalities. The injured were transported to five area hospitals, including VCU Medical Center, Chippenham, Johnston-Willis, St. Mary’s, Henrico Doctor’s Hospital Forrest Hill Campus and Southside Regional Hospital.
Officials labeled this a mass casualty situation so that they could get all the possible resources from surrounding jurisdictions. Parents had just dropped their kids off at the bus pick up spot at VCU.
“When you have a bus of this size, with that many students on it and it overturns like this in a crash, absolutely we are very fortunate that there weren’t more injured seriously than they were,” said Lt. Jason Elmore of the Chesterfield County Fire and EMS.
58-year-old Thomas Chidester was driving the bus. He’s been charged with reckless driving.
Abbott Trailways sent a statement to 8News on Sunday, which reads in full:
On Sunday night, November 29, a motorcoach owned and operated by Abbott Trailways was involved in an accident in Richmond, Virginia.
The motorcoach was chartered to take students at Virginia Tech and Radford University back to their campuses after the Thanksgiving weekend
At this time, Abbott Trailways is fully cooperating with law enforcement officials and first responders to make sure everyone onboard the motorcoach is accounted for and anyone who needs medical attention gets it.
The cause of the accident is under investigation and Abbott Trailways is again working with police to determine what happened.
Abbott Trailways is also taking steps to make sure all of the students who wish to get to campus tonight are accommodated on another bus, which was dispatched as soon as the company learned of the accident.”
In May 2015, the same bus line was carrying a minor league baseball team, the Carolina Mudcats, when the bus overturned. Though no one was seriously hurt, the team was shaken up so much that their game the next day was canceled.
Officials are still investigating the cause of the crash.
According to VDOT, nine crashes have occurred over a two-year period from June 2013 through June 2015 on the ramp from Powhite Parkway southbound to Chippenham Parkway. Of those nine accidents, eight resulted in run-off-road/fixed object collisions.
Stay with 8News for continuing coverage of this developing story.