John Anderson of Shreveport, Louisiana says he's still in shock, but he's holding it together after tragedy unfolded instantly right before his eyes while traveling with church members on Interstate 59/20.
"All our children were on that bus," First Baptist Church of Shreveport Member John Anderson said.
It happened around 10 in the morning near mile marker 163 as First Baptist Church members of Shreveport were heading to a youth camp in Macon Georgia. Anderson says the mid-sized church bus he and 22 others were traveling on overturned.
"One of the rear tires blew out and the bus started fish tailing and went out of control and flipped over three times," Anderson said.
23 people aboard, mostly youth grades 7-12, including Anderson's daughter who is a camp counselor that's pregnant, but made it out OK. All suffered injures, some in critical condition and were rushed to Meridian hospitals. Anderson says a young man died at Jeff Anderson hospital and two young ladies are fighting for their lives after being airlifted to the University Medial Center in Jackson.
"It's tough on all of us because we know these kids and they are all like family," Anderson said.
Skids marks and what's left of the tires are still visible. The impact was so tremendous that it created this huge gouge mark. It was a multi-agency rescue effort including the Mississippi Highway Patrol but passengers says a group of Alabama National Guardsmen were like angels, happening to be driving by and helped in the effort. But Anderson says it was local church pastors like Carl White of Highland Baptist Church of Meridian that have kept everyone in good spirits as they cope with this tragedy.
'It's just been a remarkable show of Christian love and we couldn't be more thankful," Anderson said.
Patrolmen say the accident is still under investigation. Many of the passengers have been released and are waiting on parents and other loved ones.
"We will be here and help these families as long as we need to."
FBC Shreveport's web site quotes the church's pastor, Dr. Greg Hunt, as saying, "Our congregation is leaning on our faith and confidence in God, balancing direct action with reliance on the goodness and power of God.''
The church's complete statement can be found at http://www.fbcshreveport.org/.