MCDOWELL CO., N.C. (WSPA) – Officials said two people were admitted and another person was still being evaluated at area hospitals Tuesday after a school bus crashed down an embankment in McDowell County Monday night.
North Carolina Highway Patrol officials said the crash happened on Highway 226 near the top of Cox Creek just before 9 p.m.
NCHP said the bus was traveling southbound on Highway 226 when it went off the road to the right and hit several large rocks and a tree.
The bus then went down an embankment and came to a stop.
The bus, an activity bus from Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy in Rutherford County, was carrying the varsity and junior varsity volleyball teams.
On Tuesday, school officials held a news conference at Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy.
Principal Dianna Bridges said a total of 14 people — players, coaches and the bus driver — were on-board the bus when it crashed and were injured.
Victims were taken to three hospitals following the crash, including one person who was airlifted to Mission Hospital.
Bridges said two were admitted to the hospital and one person was still being evaluated.
According to Bridges, the injuries were serious, but were not life-threatening.
“We’re a very very close knit family being a smaller school and a charter school,” Bridges said. “We’re very very close and there was a lot of emotions this morning. Worried about their classmates. So, it’s going to be a tough day for the whole student body today, and for a few days to come.”
The driver of the bus was released from the hospital Monday night.
The N.C. Highway Patrol is still investigating the crash.
The following is a statement that was issued on the school’s website:
Dear Gryphon Family: Last night our varsity and JV volleyball teams were involved in a bus accident returning home from a match at Mitchell High School. Fourteen of our players, coaches, and bus driver were on the bus. The accident was very serious, and I am thankful everyone will be okay. While most were able to return home last night, we did leave five there when we headed home. Two had been admitted and they were still evaluating whether to admit the others. I am sure our young ladies, coaches, and driver will have some difficult days ahead. Our TJ community is a very strong community, and I know that everyone will be supportive of these TJ family members in the days to come. We ask for your continued good thoughts and prayers for those affected by this accident. Our counselors are available for any students who may need to process the event, and I have asked teachers to allow any and all who would like to talk to someone to do so. I am very thankful to all the rescue folks involved and the kind treatment extended to the injured and families at Mission Hospitals in Asheville area. I would also like to thank the administration and coaches of Mitchell High School who came to the hospitals last night and stayed with our team members until their family members arrived. We will continue to update as we have more information. TJ Strong!– Dianna Bridges, principal