Charter Bus Crashes in Arkansas; 1 Child Dead, 45 Hurt

December 4, 2018

One child was killed and at least 45 other people were injured when a charter bus carrying a youth football team from Tennessee rolled off an interstate off-ramp and overturned before sunrise Monday in central Arkansas, authorities said.

Arkansas State Police said the bus crashed along Interstate 30 near Benton, about 25 miles southwest of Little Rock, while traveling from the Dallas area to Memphis, Tennessee. Police said most of the injured were children who were taken to hospitals in Little Rock and Benton.

No information was immediately released about the severity of the injuries, and authorities haven’t talked about what caused the crash that happened under the cloak of darkness. Live video from the scene shows the heavily damaged bus on its side in an embankment near some dense woodland, just at the crook of a sharp bend in the road.

Police said the bus driver was being questioned by troopers.

The football team was from the Orange Mound Youth Association in Tennessee and had played in a tournament in Dallas over the weekend, according to Memphis TV station WMC. The TV station reports the children are elementary-school age.

Phone calls and emails from The Associated Press to sports teams and coached believed affiliated with the organization weren’t immediately returned Monday morning.

Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock said it received 24 patients following the morning crash. The hospital said all the patients were in stable condition, though no additional information about the injuries has been released. The hospital said it has set up a family center so parents can reunite with their children. No information about the status of injured passengers at hospitals elsewhere has been released.

Orange Mound is a historically black neighborhood in southeast Memphis that comes together around its youth football teams, where kids train to be part of the highly competitive Melrose High School squad.

The community was created after the Civil War by and for African-Americans, and black-owned businesses flourished there until desegregation enabled residents to live elsewhere. Chronic disinvestment brought widespread crime and poverty.

“On behalf of all Memphians, our hearts and prayers go out to the Orange Mound children and their families involved in this morning’s tragic bus accident in Arkansas,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said in a statement.

Memphis is roughly 130 miles east of Little Rock.

Associated Press reporters Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee, and Rebecca Reynolds Yonker in Louisville, Kentucky, contributed to this report.

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