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Breaking News

Bus-Train Collision Kills Two, Injures Five

Aired March 28, 2000 - 10:00 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: We top our news this morning with a tragedy out of the Southeastern part of the country. This morning, a deadly crash between a freight train and a school bus, that happened about three hours ago on the Tennessee-Georgia state line. Witnesses say the force was so great the bus was split in half and threw children outside the bus. At least two young children are said to be dead, five more in critical condition at this time.

The bus carrying seven children to Northwest Elementary School, that's near Chatsworth, Georgia. When it crossed into Tennessee to turn around, everyone on board that bus, including its driver, were rushed by helicopters to hospitals in Chattanooga and in Knoxville.

Throughout the morning, we've been talking with police from the area, as well as emergency crews who responded to that scene.

It's also our understanding that the accident occurred so early in the route -- sort of silver lining at this time -- that the bus was not full.

Again, only seven students on board at the time.

We want to bring in now Jan Powell, she's with the Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Ms. Powell, thank you for your time this morning, and...

JAN POWELL, ERLANGER MEDICAL CENTER: You're very welcome.

HEMMER: ... please, can you update us on the people who are at your medical center, the young children taken there this morning, thus far?

POWELL: Yes. We do have five children, ages ranging from five to nine years old. All are in critical condition. They were all bought in by Life Force, which is our helicopter transport. We don't have any names to release at this time. But all are in critical condition.

HEMMER: Yes, you just said critical condition. Can you give us more information about the injuries that have been inflicted?

POWELL: Really at this time, we don't have all the information on that. They are just listed as critical at this point. HEMMER: Now, I understand the scene of the accident is about 30 miles due east of Chattanooga by flying time there. Can you give us an idea how long it took for the emergency crews to respond and then get the children the help they needed?

POWELL: Well, they were brought in just as quickly as possible. It's actually southeast of Chattanooga. And flying time, I really don't have that information exactly. But they were brought in very quickly, quick response on the part of all teams.

HEMMER: All right. Jan, as we continue to talk with you, we are starting to see the first live pictures...

POWELL: Oh, OK.

HEMMER: ... courtesy of WTVC, on our monitor right now. And we saw for a short time there a quick glimpse of the area. It was our understanding that it was rather rural, and indeed the videotape that we just saw would indicate that as well. Have you been to this area? And if so, could you describe it for us, please?

POWELL: I have not been to the area. I have not been to the area.

HEMMER: Yes, do you know anything about the school district itself in the area?

POWELL: No, I do not. I know that it is quite rural. And -- no, I do not have that information.

HEMMER: OK. The other area I would like to ask you about is the condition of the school bus driver. She is said to be in her low 30s in age. Was she taken to your medical center?

POWELL: No, she was not. She had been transported elsewhere.

HEMMER: All right. Jan Powell at the Erlanger Medical Center, again, in Chattanooga.

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