June 11--A 16-passenger public transit bus carrying special needs passengers rolled over Wednesday morning when the driver swerved to avoid a basket while crossing the Chowan Creek Bridge on Sea Island Parkway, according to Lady's Island/St. Helena Fire District spokesman Scott Harris.
A total of 11 people were transported by ambulance to Beaufort Memorial Hospital, Harris said. One of those people was seriously injured and had to be extricated by fire personnel from the Palmetto Breeze bus, he said. Palmetto Breeze provides public transportation in Beaufort County.
The accident occurred about 8:15 a.m. on the bridge linking Lady's Island and St. Helena Island.
When the bus rolled over, it slid into oncoming traffic, striking a pickup truck head on. A second pickup truck rear ended the bus, Harris said.
The driver and a passenger in the first pickup truck were both injured and taken to the hospital for treatment, he said. The driver of the second pickup truck was not injured, he said.
The other nine people injured were on the Palmetto Breeze bus. Three had to be helped out of the vehicle but were not trapped, Harris said.
It took firefighters about 20 minutes to extricate the trapped passenger, who sustained severe trauma to the right side of their body, including the head, shoulder and arm, he said.
The passengers were from the Beaufort County Disabilities & Special Needs Department, according to Palmetto Breeze interim director Mary Lou Franzoi.
The bus's driver has been released from the hospital, Franzoi said. The condition of the passengers is unknown.
The fire district, Beaufort County EMS, Beaufort County Sheriff's Office and S.C. Highway Patrol responded to the scene.
The Sheriff's Office sent out three electronic alerts between about 8:30 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. notifying people of the accident, lane closures and the road reopening.
As of 10:15 a.m., Harris said traffic continued to be backed up on the road, which is the main artery between the Sea Islands and Beaufort.
Laura Oberle contributed to this report.
Copyright 2014 - The Island Packet (Hilton Head Island, S.C.)