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Speed to blame for crash that flipped charter bus carrying college students

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Speed caused a college charter bus to crash and overturn outside of Richmond, according to Virginia State Police. Abbott Trailways bus driver Thomas B. Chidester, 58, of Salem, was charged with reckless driving following Sunday night's crash.

"The bus, operated by Abbott Bus Lines of Roanoke, Va., had 50 passengers and a driver on board at the time of the crash. Approximately 34 of the passengers and the driver were transported to six Metro-Richmond hospitals for treatment of minor injuries. One passenger is still being treated for serious injuries," a Virginia State Police spokesperson said in a Monday morning update. "The passengers are students returning to the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Radford University. The bus picked the students up at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and was initially headed to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville."

Police have not yet released the names of the injured students, however a Radford University spokesperson said he believed 30 Radford students were on the bus that crashed. A Virginia Tech spokesperson said 37 Virginia Tech students on two buses headed back to campus that night.

One Student's Story

Selma Taylor, whose niece Kandace was on the charter bus when it flipped, said she saw the accident about 15 minutes after she dropped Kandace off at the bus stop. The Virginia Tech freshman was a first-time rider.

"When I saw that bus on its side, surrounded by ambulances and police cars, I just knew that was the bus I had just put Kandace on, and I just lost it, I lost it,” Taylor explained.

Kandace spent most of the night at Chippenham Hospital, as doctors ran tests, MRI’s, and X-Rays. Monday morning, Taylor said her niece was in so much pain she could not even move, but Taylor said she was thankful, the situation didn’t end much worse.

“Had that bus rolled a couple more times those kids would have been on really, really bad shape today,” she said.

The Crash

The bus crashed at  approximately 7:15 p.m. as it traveled south on the Powhite Parkway/Route 76 and took the ramp to Chippenham Parkway/Route 150 south.

"As the bus came through the curve of the ramp, the driver lost control and the bus overturned onto its side," the State Police spokesperson said. "At this stage of the investigation, the trooper has determined that speed was a factor in the cause of the crash. State police has also been in contact with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concerning the crash."

The crash closed the ramp from the Powhite to Chippenham Parkway (Route 150) south. Southbound lanes of the Powhite (Route 76) were also closed for a time. Drivers were advised to expect delays and asked to use an alternate route. The highway reopened more than five hours later at around 12:40 a.m.

Statement from Bus Company 

Sunday night, November 29th, 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.