Three people died, and more than 40 people were injured, in a three vehicle crash involving a bus Sunday night approximately 10 miles east of Forrest City, Arkansas on Interstate 40.
Investigators said the accident happened just after 10:00 p.m., when a passenger bus owned by the Tornado Bus Company, traveling westbound on I-40, crossed the median and collided with a pick-up truck traveling eastbound. A third vehicle, a tractor trailer also traveling eastbound, then collided with the bus.
State police identified two of the three people killed in the crash -- pickup driver 40-year-old Danny Okurily of Hot Springs and 58-year-old bus passenger Raul Lopez of West Chicago, Illinois. Police were not releasing the name of a third person killed in the crash, pending notification of the family.
Twenty-one people were taken to Crittenden Memorial Hospital and five were admitted. The five were in satisfactory condition today.
Others were taken to hospitals in Memphis, Tennessee. Three children were admitted to Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center. The hospital would not give their conditions. Seven people were admitted to Regional Medical Center. One was listed as critical; the six others were in serious condition.
Officials have not yet determined why the passenger bus crossed the median. The driver, Felix Tapia, 28, of Brownsville, Texas, sustained minor injuries in the crash.
Shortly after the crash, a state police dispatcher said about a dozen victims needed to be extricated from the bus. Witnesses said children were among the passengers.
Tapia was being interviewed by troopers investigating the crash, Arkansas State Police spokesperson Bill Sadler said. Other survivors were also being interviewed.
Sadler said a Tornado Bus manifest listed 44 passengers and a driver aboard the bus headed from Chicago to Dallas. The accident happened 10 miles east of Forrest City.
Traffic was halted for a time in both directions as emergency crews worked at the scene. Motorists were rerouted onto U.S. Highway 70. The crash occurred as Thanksgiving weekend travel was winding down.
In 2004, a bus crash in east Arkansas claimed 15 lives. In that crash, a Chicago tour bus heading to a Mississippi casino left Interstate 55 near Marion and flipped over. Federal investigators said the bus, which carried 30 people, was in poor condition and shouldn't have been in service.