Bus Crash Survivor: “I Feel Very Lucky”

One of the survivors of the charter bus crash along the President George Bush Turnpike says he feels lucky to be alive.

At least two people were killed and 40 were hospitalized after the Cardinal Coach Line bus careened off the turnpike at Belt Line Road on Thursday morning. The bus was on its way to Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant, Okla., when it suddenly weaved across the busy highway and struck two concrete barriers before toppling over in the center median, witnesses said.

"It happened pretty quick," Dan Risik said. "We were going down the road and, all of a sudden, a crashing sound -- like it ran into something -- and the bus started to shake vehemently and then turned over on its right side. People were on top of people; screaming, hollering, yelling for help. It wasn't a very pleasant situation to be in."

Risik -- who was seated in the middle of the bus on the right side in an aisle seat -- said when the vehicle came to stop, his leg was trapped.

"My buddy, I was on top of him. He was saying, 'Please get off me. Please get off me.' Well, I couldn't, because a lady was on my leg and she couldn't move because she was kind of in between the seat or whatever," Risik said.

The bus was carrying about 45 people, most of them senior citizens, law enforcement officials said. Risik said most of the passengers weren't wearing seat belts.

"After hearing what I've heard and seeing what I've seen in person, I feel extremely fortunate to be virtually injury-free -- a few scrapes, whatever," Risik said. "Other than that, I feel very lucky."

40 People Taken to Local Hospitals

Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Sgt. Lonny Haschel confirmed that two people were killed. More than three dozen people were being treated at local hospitals, many of them suffering from fractured bones, hospital officials said.

A spokeswoman for Baylor Medical Center in Irving said 14 patients arrived at the hospital following the accident.

Risik, who was one of the 14, was treated and released from the hospital at about 1:30 p.m.

Five women and three men ranging in age from 68 to 87 were taken to Las Colinas Medical Center in Irving. Details on their conditions weren't immediately available.

Most of the patients had superficial injuries, said Dr. Alexander Kennedy, medical director of emergency services.

"The majority of the patients had some sort of head injury, and they all had CAT scans performed to evaluate them for brain or skull injuries," he said.

Ernie Johns, of Hurst, was treated and released from Las Colinas Medical Center. He said he was thankful to walk out of the hospital with not much more than bumps on his head.

Another 15 patients were transported to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, including the bus driver.

The 13 women and two men range in age from 66 to 80. Four people were in critical condition Thursday evening, and one person was in surgery.

One victim was airlifted to a fourth hospital in critical condition, hospital officials said.

Public transportation buses with Dallas Area Rapid Transit were used to transport some passengers with less serious injuries.

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending investigators to Irving, board spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said.

Associated Press reporters David Warren and John L. Mone and NBC 5's Mark Schnyder and Christine Lee contributed to this report.

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