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Train and bus collide in Mississippi; 4 killed

BILOXI, Miss. — Four people were killed when a bus and a freight train collided Tuesday in Biloxi, Mississippi, city officials said.

The Texas-based charter bus, carrying 50 to 60 people, was heading north on Main Street when it got stuck trying to cross the train tracks, according to Cecilia Dobbs Walton, a city spokeswoman.

The eastbound CSX train struck the bus around 2:13 p.m., according to Vincent Creel, also a city spokesman.

Creel said three people were dead on arrival. The fourth victim died at the scene.

CNN affiliate WLOX reported that 35 people were hospitalized. The train crew was not injured, said CSX spokesman Gary Sease.

Motorist Austin Dominey said it looked like the bus had bottomed out as it tried to cross the train tracks, CNN affiliate WKRG reported. Dominey told the station it appeared the bus driver was trying to back up when the train ran into it.

There is a low ground clearance sign on each side of the tracks.

Dominey said a man in a car in front of him raced down the street and started to help people climb out some broken windows. The driver stood on top of his Chrysler sedan, which he had parked next to the bus, according to Dominey.
The eastbound mixed-freight train, heading from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama, had three locomotives and 52 cars, 27 loaded cars and 25 empty cars, Sease said.

The crossing has flashing lights and crossing gates, according to Sease.

“This is a tragic event for our city,” Biloxi Mayor Andrew Gilich said.

Police are talking to the bus driver and the train operator.

John Ferrari, CEO of ECHO Transportation, the charter company, said it is also investigating the crash. He didn’t immediately have any additional information.

Sease said CSX personnel are working with first responders at the scene.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant tweeted: “Please pray for the injured and the families of the lost.”

The National Transportation and Safety Board said the agency is gathering information on the crash.

The bus was carrying 50 people from Austin, Texas, Biloxi Police Chief John Miller said at a news conference. He said authorities believe the bus was stopped on the tracks at the time of the crash, but they don’t yet know why.