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Student injured in charter bus crash calls Chesterfield mom ‘guardian angel’

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — The NTSB and state investigators checked a damaged charter bus Monday after Sunday evening’s horrifying crash sent dozens to area hospitals.

The Abbott Trailways bus will be towed away from a Hanover lot sometime Tuesday, but on Monday stories of people helping one another during the crisis began to emerge.

In fact, the aftermath of the accident helped form a special friendship between a college freshman and a Chesterfield mom.

The Radford freshman suffered a broken collar bone and two broken ribs in the crash, saying everything flipped and faded to black in seconds.

“First, the bus started shifting,” she said. “Everyone was screaming. We were all on the ground.”

The Abott Trailways bus flipped on its side on the Chippenham exit off the southbound side of the Powhite Parkway about 7:15 p.m. Sunday.

Tina Johnson

Tina Johnson

Tina Johnson had been on the way home from getting medicine for her sick husband, but stopped immediately to help with another medical emergency, this one massive in size.

“I saw a female crawling out of the bus,” Johnson said in an interview Monday. “I asked if she was OK, and she said ‘Yes, but you need to start praying for the 50 kids on that bus.’”

Johnson said hearing the word “kids” made her motherly instincts kick in to high gear. She ran toward the wrecked bus to help in any way possible. That’s where she met the student for the first time.

“I put a blanket over her, prayed with her,” Johnson said. “She held my hand and asked me not to leave until the ambulance came.”

“I am so thankful for her,” the 19-year-old student said repeatedly.

Ambulance after ambulance began filling with the victims, with injuries ranging from at least one critical to scrapes and bruises.

Johnson said emergency crews had a system that worked. “They responded well, they put bracelets on the kids that were color coded red, yellow and green and knew exactly where they were going. They were well prepared.”

Prepared? The student said “guardian angel” would best sum up what Johnson did for her. And on a weekend with so much talk about blessings, she said she has a lot to be thankful for.

“I am so thankful she stayed with me until the paramedics arrived,” the student said.

A lot of people asked WTVR CBS 6 why the bus was headed southbound when the two colleges they were headed for were both west.

A source close to the investigation said the bus driver had been told about several accidents on I-64 near Afton Mountain, so he decided to take an alternate route.