VSP: Speed was a factor in bus crash that injured 34

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia State Police (VSP) are investigating after a charter bus flipped on the Powhite Parkway around 7:15 p.m. on Sunday, injuring 34 people.

On Monday, VSP sent out new information saying that “speed was a factor in the cause of the crash.”

“The charter bus was traveling south on the Powhite Parkway when it took the ramp to Chippenham Parkway south,” police said. “As the bus came through the curve of the ramp, the driver lost control and the bus overturned onto its side.”

State police are working with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to investigate the crash.

The bus, operated by Abbott Bus Lines of Roanoke, had 50 people on board, including two drivers. Police say the passengers were mainly students picked up in Richmond who were returning to campuses of the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Radford University.

“I dropped them off at VCU, they were headed back to Radford tonight to go back to school,” said parent Deborah Baldwin. “I was on my way home; I got a call that said the bus flipped over on Chippenham.”

There were some injuries, mostly bumps, bruises and cuts. There were no fatalities. The injured were transported to five area hospitals, including VCU Medical Center, Chippenham, Johnston-Willis, St. Mary’s, Henrico Doctor’s Hospital Forrest Hill Campus and Southside Regional Hospital.

Of the 15 brought to VCU Medical Center, 11 victims have been treated and released at last check and four remain in good condition.

Officials labeled this a mass casualty situation so that they could get all the possible resources from surrounding jurisdictions. Parents had just dropped their kids off at the bus pick up spot at VCU.

“When you have a bus of this size, with that many students on it and it overturns like this in a crash, absolutely we are very fortunate that there weren’t more injured seriously than they were,” said Lt. Jason Elmore of the Chesterfield County Fire and EMS.

58-year-old Thomas Chidester was driving the bus. He’s been charged with reckless driving.

The following statement from Abbott Trailways was provided to WRIC:

On Sunday night, November 29, a motorcoach owned and operated by Abbott Trailways was involved in an accident in Richmond, Virginia.

The motorcoach was chartered to take students at Virginia Tech and Radford University back to their campuses after the Thanksgiving weekend

At this time, Abbott Trailways is fully cooperating with law enforcement officials and first responders to make sure everyone onboard the motorcoach is accounted for and anyone who needs medical attention gets it.

The cause of the accident is under investigation and Abbott Trailways is again working with police to determine what happened.

Abbott Trailways is also taking steps to make sure all of the students who wish to get to campus tonight are accommodated on another bus, which was dispatched as soon as the company learned of the accident.”

In May 2015, the same bus line was carrying a minor league baseball team, the Carolina Mudcats, when the bus overturned. Though no one was seriously hurt, the team was shaken up so much that their game the next day was canceled.

Officials are still investigating the cause of the crash.

Stay on WAVY.com for developments in this story.

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