No charges have been filed in Thursday’s deadly church bus crash that killed a 17-year-old girl and injured dozens of other passengers, Fulton County police said.
In a news conference Friday at the Fulton County Government Service Center, Deputy Police Chief Darryl Halbert said the driver of the bus remains in serious condition at the hospital, and he has not been interviewed by police.
“Once we find out what his status is medically, we’ll interview him to find out exactly what occurred,” Halbert said.
Nine of the bus passengers remained in the hospital Friday afternoon, Halbert said. None of them were in critical condition.
The bus, from Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala., was carrying passengers ranging in age from 16 to 71, police said. The group was on its way to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for a mission trip to Botswana.
The crash killed 17-year-old Sarah Harmening on the scene, police said. Harmening’s family said in a news conference late Thursday night that she had been afraid to travel, but her faith in God gave her the confidence to continue.
Police said the bus was traveling east on Camp Creek Parkway in southern Fulton County at around 4 p.m. when it attempted to change lanes and collided with a Chrysler 200.
“The initial collision caused the bus driver to steer to the left, abruptly causing him to lose control,” Fulton County police Cpl. Patrena Smith said.
The bus entered the median, rolled over and slid into a Mercedes sedan that was traveling westbound, Smith said. The drivers of the two cars were taken to the hospital but had been discharged by Friday afternoon.
The Jaws of Life were used on both the bus and the Mercedes to rescue two people from the crash site, according to Jack Butler, the Fulton County deputy fire chief.
Though initial reports indicated that the National Transportation Safety Board was conducting the investigation, Fulton County officials made it clear they are in charge.
Investigators “plan to do a reconstruction in the next day or so to find out exactly what happened,” Halbert said.
“Seeing the vehicles overturned and just knowing the numbers of people on the bus, it’s kind of hard to divorce yourself from that,” Halbert said of Thursday’s scene. “So, again we hate that there was a loss of life. We hope not to have those types of incidents, but we know that they do occur.”
The church had registered three vehicles with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for interstate travel, and had no record of previous violations or crashes.
— Staff writers Lauren Foreman and Raisa Habersham contributed to this article.
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