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US

7 killed in church bus crash, 27 injured

May 2, 1999
Web posted at: 11:38 p.m. EDT (0338 GMT)

ARTESIA, New Mexico (CNN) -- A bus packed with a church youth group collided with two other vehicles Sunday on a remote highway, killing at least seven people and injuring 27 others, including two critically, police said.

The names and ages of those killed were not immediately released, but officials said some of the fatalities involved youth from the church group.

"We are greatly saddened by the news that such a terrible tragedy has befallen this bus full of children," Gov. Gary Johnson and his wife, Dee, said in a statement. "Our sympathies go out to the victims and their families."

Lillie Lewis, a spokeswoman from Gerald Champion Memorial Hospital in Alamogordo, said 27 people were brought to the hospital, including a group of about 20 youth ranging in age from 12 to 18.

A 16-year-old girl and a 64-year-old woman in critical condition were being flown by emergency helicopter to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, Lewis said.

Most of the injured were treated and released, but two others remained in serious condition, Lewis said. A local church was making arrangements for the youth to stay with members of its congregation.

The youth group, from Greenlawn Church of Christ in Lubbock, Texas, were returning from an annual spring retreat in Weed, New Mexico, when the bus crashed on State Road 82 near Mayhill, between Roswell and Artesia.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known. Darren White, the secretary for the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, said a pickup truck and a recreation vehicle were also involved in the accident.

Weather did not appear to be a factor in the crash officials said.


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