Altanta, GA Bluffton Baseball Team Bus Crash, Mar 2007
6 KILLED AFTER BUS DRIVES OFF ATLANTA HIGHWAY RAMP.
Atlanta, Ga. (AP) - A small college in Ohio was thrown into mourning Friday after a bus carrying the baseball team tumbled over the side of a highway overpass and slammed onto the pavement 30 feet below, killing four students, the drive and his wife.
The team from the close knit, Mennonite-affiliated Bluffton University was making its annual spring training trip to Florida before daybreak when the charter bus crashed, scattering bags of baseball equipment across the road and splattering blood on the overpass. Some of the athletes climbed out the roof escape hatch, dazed and bloody.
"I just looked out and saw the road coming up at me. I remember the catcher tapping me on the head, telling me to get out because there was gas all over," said A. J. RAMTHUN, an 18-year-old second baseman from Springfield, Ohio, who was asleep in a window seat and suffered a broken collarbone and cuts on his face from broken glass. "I heard some guys crying. 'I'm stuck! I'm stuck'"
Investigators said the driver apparently mistook an exit ramp for a lane and went into the curve at full speed. It was dark at the time, but the weather was clear.
On the 1,150 student campus in Bluffton, about 50 miles south of Toledo, students and community residents - some wiping away tears - filled the gymnasium to grieve and learn more about what happened.
When news of the crash appeared on television, students desperately tried to reach some of the athletes on their cellphones.
Sophomore Courtney Minnich said that at a college as small as Bluffton, "even if you didn't know everybody, it will hurt because you've seen them on campus."
Megan Barker, a sophomore, said she knew just about everyone on the team and described them as "a fun loving group of guys." She added, "they live as a family."
Classes were canceled, along with other sports trips that had been scheduled during next week's spring break. A candlelight vigil was held Friday evening. Airlines also arranged for the players' parents to fly to Atlanta for free.
Cindy Perkins, of Convoy, said she looked forward to an emotional reunion with her son, MATT, who was badly bruised.
"That's probably going to be the tough part, just going through, reliving what happened and knowing that some of the friends he had, he won't be in contact with them anymore," she said.
Beyond the six killed, 28 players and their coach, JAMES GRANDEY, 29, serious condition, were taken to the hospital. He and six players were reported in serious or critical condition, many of the rest were soon released. TIM BERTA, 22, Ida, Michigan, was in critical condition. The players' injuries included broken bones, cuts and bruises.
Kris Grandinard, 40, flew from Indianapolis with his two daughters to visit his 19-year-old son, WILLIAM, who is in serious condition at Grady Memorial Hospital with a concussion, a broken left arm, cracked ribs and injuries to the spleen and liver.
"I don't think he's really grasped the severity of the situation just yet. He knows, there's some kids that have died but he don't know who yet. And I don't know if he really wants to know," he said.