A bus carrying Texas high school band members home from Disney World plunged into a ravine before dawn Tuesday in Alabama, killing the driver and injuring many passengers, authorities said. First responders used ropes to rappel down the 50-foot ravine in the middle of Interstate 10 to reach them, and then had to cut some of the victims free from the wreckage, said Baldwin County Sheriff Huey Hoss Mack, who confirmed the fatality. About 45 people were on board, and were brought to 10 hospitals in Alabama and Florida, either by helicopter or ambulance, the AP reports. The sheriff said it wasn't immediately clear what caused the bus to enter the grassy median, which abruptly ends at a steep embankment where the interstate passes over Cowpen Creek.
The crash happened about 5:30am, crunching the bus and leaving the passengers exposed to chilly temperatures. Rescuers used every piece of equipment on every truck to reach them, Mack said: "This is what we call an all-out." Only hours before the crash, the band's Facebook page had been updated to show a large group posing outside Disney World. A second bus on the spring-break trip, driving ahead of the one that crashed, is continuing on to Texas, the sheriff said. The bus charter company, First Class Tours of Houston, pledged to help local authorities investigating the crash in a statement that offered prayers for injured and their families.