LORTON, Va. — A shuttle bus carrying 16 passengers plus the driver, struck a guardrail and overturned before dawn Sunday along Interstate 95 south of the nation’s capital. One person died and 16 others were sent to the hospital, with one woman in critical condition, Virginia State Police said.
The bus was headed south from Washington, D.C., on the heavily traveled East Coast artery when witnesses reported a white, speeding four-door passenger vehicle swerved into the bus’ travel lane. The bus then swerved to the right to avoid the sedan, ran off the road, struck the guardrail and overturned, police said.
Troopers say the driver of the white sedan was later arrested and charged with one felony count of hit-and-run. The Virginia State Police identified him as 31-year-old Raphael Manuel Barrientos of Dumfries, Va. Additional charges are pending.
The crash occurred in northern Virginia’s Fairfax County and police were called at 3:28 a.m. Sunday, State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.
“Witnesses were able to provide us with a license plate and we were able to track that vehicle down at a residence,” Geller said. The car was found at 6:10 a.m. Sunday.
Geller said the man who died was one of two people flown from the crash to a northern Virginia hospital. He was identified as 24-year-old David Alberto Sanchez of Woodbridge, Va.
Geller said one other person was being treated for life-threatening injuries Sunday. Two others, the driver and a passenger, were being treated for serious, but non-life-threatening injuries. The remaining 13 passengers suffered minor injuries.
The father of one of the bus’ passengers said his 32-year-old son and 15 of his friends left a Washington, D.C., club headed to Woodbridge, Va. They were almost home when the bus crashed.
“My son called me and said we were in a major accident,” said Pat Tierno. “I said a car or what? He said no a party bus.”
Tierno’s son has a broken nose and ribs.
“I guess when it hit the guardrail it went airborne. At the end of it, there was only two people on the bus, him and another girl. The other kids were scattered throughout the ground. I know a lot of these kids. I coached baseball. They grew up together. He was banged up, I mean blood just everywhere on his head. They’re all banged up. From broken bones to broken legs.”
Geller identified the crashed vehicle as an American Transportation bus. An answering service dispatcher for that company said American Transportation had no information to release. A person who replied to an e-mail sent to the company’s address referred questions to the Virginia State Police.
News photographs taken at the site early Sunday showed police had erected orange safety cones at the site and used floodlights to illuminate the overturned commuter bus. The white bus was on its right side in a grassy area, its rear pointed away from a crumpled guardrail. Crews were visible using a tall crane trying to right the bus. Its windshield was shattered and much of its right side crumpled from the right front bumper backward.
Choking back tears, Tierno said, “It’s going to, I mean it’s going to be a long road, it’s going to be a long road for these kids. The thing is we always preach to these kids, do the right thing. They did the right thing. They rented a bus, yes they wanted to go out but they rented a bus and this is what happened.”
Contributing: The Associated Press