DESOTO COUNTY, MS (WMC) - Two people are dead and 44 others are injured after a tour bus overturned in DeSoto County, Mississippi, about 40 miles south of Memphis.
The DeSoto County coroner confirmed the victims are 76-year-old Betty Russell and 61-year-old Cynthia Hardin, both from Huntsville, Alabama.
Authorities say firefighters had to climb through the bus' roof to free passengers. All 44 survivors sustained various injuries and were taken to hospitals in Germantown, Collierville, Olive Branch and DeSoto.
At least three survivors are listed in serious condition. Those discharged will stay in a hotel Wednesday night and weather-permitting will return home to Huntsville Thursday morning.
The bus company involved in the crash sent a replacement bus to pick up any of the passengers who are well enough to head home. The company owner, his son and other employees also made the trip to Olive Branch. Workers went room to room checking on passengers and talking with families.
Mike Teague, the owner’s son, said his dad rarely shows emotion but that was not the case today. He says his father plans to issue a statement to the media soon.
Teague VIP Express, operated in Anniston, Alabama, has never had a deadly accident until Wednesday. The company released this statement not long after the crash:
We spoke to one survivor whose says she's lucky to be alive.
"I was scared!” said Veronica Love. “I was really scared."
Love was still shaken up hours after the crash.
"All of a sudden the bus started swerving and then we spun around like two times, hit the rail then flipped over,” Love said.
Love says she’s taken the same trip multiple times on a Teague VIP Express bus. On Wednesday night she left what is typically a fun-filled trip to Mississippi with an injured shoulder, but she knows it could have been a lot worse.
"I’m just thankful I’m alive,” Love said.
The DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department says highways there are slick and dangerous because of sleet, which is falling across parts of the Mid-South.
Deputy Sheriff Macon Moore says his crews worked multiple crashes in the county Wednesday, including one involving an 18-wheeler. Deputies are asking drivers to slow down and proceed with caution.