Four people were killed Thursday in a head-on crash involving a Greyhound bus and a tractor-trailer in northwestern New Mexico, officials said.
“We do expect that number to rise,” New Mexico State Police spokesman Officer Ray Wilson said of the fatalities. Wilson said six people suffered minor injuries; the rest were taken to hospitals. Some of the injured included children, one hospital official said.
The truck was traveling eastbound around 12:30 p.m. when it blew a tire, lost control, crossed the median and struck the westbound bus, Wilson told reporters. The crash occurred along Interstate 40 in McKinley County, near Thoreau, police said.
Aerial footage by CNN affiliate KRQE showed the bus damaged on the front edge, but upright, in the grass median. Nearby was an overturned vehicle and the truck trailer on its side, with contents spilled on the median.
One witness, Marc Gonzales, said the scene was a “complete catastrophe,” with skid marks on the side of the road. Passengers tried to climb out the bus windows and bystanders grabbed ladders from their vehicles to try to rescue them, he said.
“It’s by far one of the worst accidents I’ve encountered. … It was horrible,” Gonzales told KRQE.
“You could tell that people were distressed, screams were coming from the bus,” he said.
Twenty patients were initially taken to the Gallup Indian Medical Center in Gallup, acting chief medical officer Dr. Kevin Gaines told reporters. Some families were among the patients, as well as four children, he said.
Ten patients were being treated for injuries ranging from broken bones to bruises, he said. One was in critical condition and two were in serious condition, Gaines said.
Six patients were released and four others were transferred to other medical facilities in New Mexico and in neighboring Arizona, Gaines said.
The Los-Angeles bound Greyhound bus carried 49 passengers, the company said.
“Our first priority is taking care of our passengers and their families as this incident has deeply impacted all involved,” the company said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone as we continue to give our support to all affected.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending 10 investigators to the site.
This is a developing story. Return for updates.