“I prayed and cried and called my mom,” said Garland Andrews, recounting the moments after he captured cellphone footage of a train colliding with a charter bus in Biloxi, Mississippi. Andrews told news sources he recorded the accident to document a long-time problem: train collisions at the Main Street railway crossing in Biloxi.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), 17 trains have collided with vehicles on Biloxi’s Main Street.
Andrews, one of many witnesses of the most recent accident, hopes this crash will be the last of its kind. “Implement something that’s going to change what’s going on in my city of Biloxi,” he said, “because there’s been too much loss of life.”
The collision, which happened earlier this week, killed four of the bus passengers and left dozens with serious injuries. Andrews described the scene as “People losing their life right in front of you.”
According to local news reports, the bus was straddling the railroad tracks when a three-locomotive train owned by CSX Transportation slammed into its side, pushing the bus about 300 feet down the track.
Biloxi Police Chief John Miller told news sources that “We don't know if there were mechanical issues or what was taking place,” referring to the fact that the bus was stopped on the tracks when the accident happened. “We’re not sure why.”
The bus, an Echo Transportation vehicle, was affiliated with a senior citizen group in Bastrop County, Texas and carried more than 50 passengers when it was struck by the train.
“Our mission is to not only find out what happened, but why it happened,” said a NTSB board member. “That’s critical: to learn from this so it won’t happen again.”