MERIDIAN, MS (KSLA) - Tragedy overcomes an Ark-La-Tex church: one confirmed dead and more than 20 injured in a roll-over bus accident.
A bus with 23 people from First Baptist church in Shreveport blew a tire, before rolling over several times.
The crash happened at about 10 o'clock this morning near a rest stop at the state line separating Mississippi and Alabama near Meridian, Mississippi.
At least two passengers were trapped underneath the bus. A group of National Guard soldiers was on the highway at the time and helped extricate the injured.
"The National Guardsmen actually picked the bus up off the two people and got them out," said Lauderdale County Coroner Clayton Cobbler III.
An 18-year-old male was pronounced dead at a hospital, and his name was not released.
Three people were airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, including one with severe head injuries, while the others were being treated at three hospitals in Meridian, the coroner said.
Highway officials say injuries ranged from severe pelvic, back, and chest injuries to scrapes and scratches.
An official at Regency Hospital of Meridian said six people were taken there and another official at Rush Foundation Hospital said 13 people were being treated there, but neither would release the conditions of the crash victims.
Pieces of tire and orange lines mark tragedy on I-20 near the Mississippi-Alabama state line.
Church members from first Baptist of Shreveport will never forget this Sunday morning.
A blown tire sent their church bus rolling, killing one child and injuring 22 other people near Meridian, Mississippi.
"The churches are mobilizing in the Meridian area. I even talked to the wrecker driver whose church was ready to do anything they needed to," said deacon board chairman John Odom.
Here in Shreveport, church members' cell phones started ringing as they prepared for Sunday worship.
As soon as the parents heard of the news, they headed straight to Meridian, Mississippi by car. A few of the parents were able to use a church members' private plane to get to Jackson and Meridian even quicker.
Fortunately, a bus full of military personnel including triage nurses were travelling directly behind the bus when it rolled.
Together, they were able to push the bus upright and began to treat passengers on the spot.
"There were some combat medics on board, who immediately began triage to the wounded," said Odom.
"And for us, that's just one of those small evidences of the way God steps in to provide his support," said senior pastor Greg Hunt. Medics airlifted two people to university hospital in Jackson and the others to three different hospitals in the Meridian area.
Senior pastor Greg Hunt believes the lone fatality occurred after the child got to Jackson by helicopter.
The church bought the bus new, equipped with seatbelts.
They even made sure the driver was trained and certified.
But not even precaution could stop a tire from blowing and a church community from facing great adversity.
The church group was on their way to Macon, Georgia, in order to attend a camp to strengthen their faith and complete community service projects.
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