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Bus Accident in Tennessee

Aired October 3, 2001 - 08:04   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: We are following some breaking news this morning.

Greyhound has halted bus service nationwide following a deadly bus crash in Manchester, Tennessee -- central part of the state. We are told that 1,900 of Greyhound's 2,300 bus fleet was on the road at the time of that suspension of service. We do not know exactly how many of those buses have actually stopped, pulled over and stopped their service.

A passenger on board says a man on the bus on Interstate 24 slashed the driver's throat. The subsequent crash killed at least four people. There are reports of more fatalities. Several others have been taken to area hospitals -- medivaced out with injuries.

Greyhound will not comment on the crash beyond that, but says it is suspending service. They did not indicate there were any other incidents on any other buses, but they said this was something they would do as a safety precaution -- Paula.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And we still don't really know what that means, right?

O'BRIEN: Exactly. You just have to...

ZAHN: I mean, in this environment when we all are so nervous about so many things, it makes you wonder why they have stopped the bus service.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

ZAHN: And I don't say that to alarm people.

O'BRIEN: Well, no, but I guess in this environment, you sort of have to stop the buses, even if you have no evidence to the contrary. And so, there you have it.

ZAHN: We'll keep you posted on that throughout the morning.

O'BRIEN: All right. We have a little more information coming in right now, as a matter of fact.

Steve DeFord joins us on the line. He is a 911 operator who took some of the initial calls there in Coffee County, Tennessee when indications that this crash had occurred. Steve, can you hear me?

STEVE DEFORD, COFFEE COUNTY 911 DIRECTOR: Yes, sir.

O'BRIEN: All right. Could you just lay out what you heard, and how you -- how it was presented to you this morning?

DEFORD: OK. At approximately 4:13 a.m. Central Daylight Time, we received a 911 call that there had been an accident on I-24 between Nashville and Chattanooga. Since that time, we have transported 32 patients to local and area hospitals. Six of those 32 patients are confirmed fatalities.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have been called in. They are on the scene. They are doing a thorough investigation at this time, and we are providing support services for those two at this time.

O'BRIEN: Mr. DeFord, do you know anything about the suspect in this case? Is he among the injured -- the fatalities? Or is he under arrest?

DEFORD: He has been confirmed as one of the fatalities.

O'BRIEN: OK. And can you tell us a little bit more about the circumstances of this as you heard it from witnesses?

DEFORD: No, sir. We don't have any specifics on exactly what took place at the time of the accident.

O'BRIEN: Is it routine for the FBI to be called in to an accident such as this?

DEFORD: No, sir.

O'BRIEN: OK. Is there reason to believe there might be some sort of a plot that is linked to this in some way?

DEFORD: We don't have any information confirming that at this time.

O'BRIEN: All right. And do you have any other information about the suspension of service by Greyhound?

DEFORD: Just what we're hearing from other news agencies that they have suspended all Greyhound travel at this time.

O'BRIEN: All right. And do you know the number of passengers on board that bus total? You said you had 32 patients that were transported.

DEFORD: Yes, sir. I don't have a confirmed number. We've heard there was approximately 50 people on the bus.

O'BRIEN: All right. Steve DeFord is with the Coffee County Emergency Response Team. 911 calls came in there this morning when at about 4:30 a.m. local time, 5:13 -- I did say, 4:30, I meant 4:13 -- 5:13 Eastern Time word of this crash on Interstate 24 came through. The bus was headed from Nashville to Atlanta. He says approximately 50 passengers on board; 32 patients. He is confirming six fatalities at this point. Greyhound a little earlier had said four fatalities.

And once again to underscore: Greyhound has suspended its service nationwide. There were 1,900 buses on the road at the time -- 1,900 of the fleet of 2,300. They say that's just because of a precaution, but we have had it confirmed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is on the scene there investigating. That would not necessarily be a routine agency to respond to an incident like this.

So this is obviously a developing story. We'll keep you posted -- Paula.

ZAHN: And, Miles, he did confirm for you, in fact, that the man who allegedly slit the throat of the driver is now among the confirmed dead.

O'BRIEN: Yes. Important point.

ZAHN: OK.

O'BRIEN: Important point.

ZAHN: Miles, thanks so much.

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