Bus crash survivor remembers scream, squeal of tires

Updated: March 7, 2007, 3:58 PM ET
Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Kyle King remembers everything about the bus crash that killed four of his Bluffton University teammates, including the scream that woke him just before the impact.

"I woke up to the ... driver's wife screaming, and it was all slow motion. ... She said something like, 'This isn't the exit' or the on-ramp or something, and then I remember the bus driver saying something and then I actually heard the tires squeal of him trying to get it back in control and then I felt the bus turn into the guard."
-- Bluffton bus crash survivor Kyle King.

The bus driver's wife's scream penetrated his headphones. Then came the sound of tires screeching and the impact as the bus slammed into a concrete barrier on an overpass and plummeted to the highway pavement below. The driver, his wife and the four students died, and several others were seriously injured.

King made it out through the shattered windshield before collapsing on Interstate 75, shaking in the pre-dawn chill with a broken back.

"I actually remember everything," King told reporters from his hospital room Tuesday before his face reddened and tears welled up.

"I woke up to the ... driver's wife screaming, and it was all slow motion," he said, tears rolled down his cheeks. "She said something like, 'This isn't the exit' or the on-ramp or something, and then I remember the bus driver saying something and then I actually heard the tires squeal of him trying to get it back in control and then I felt the bus turn into the guard."

Investigators say the driver apparently mistook an exit ramp for a highway lane, continuing up it without stopping at the "T" intersection at the top of the ramp.

Once King was out of the wreckage, he found stopped cars facing him and felt "like the deer in the headlight," he said.

"I couldn't move and I just collapsed. I'm sitting there, shaking in the road and I can't move ... and then here comes my teammates ... I honestly thought I died."

King's broken vertebrae required more than six hours of surgery, said his mother, Denise King of Dover, Ohio. He might need more surgery for one hand, she said. With therapy, he's expected to walk again, she said.

The baseball team's coach, James Grandey, 29, remained in serious condition Wednesday in the intensive care unit of Piedmont Hospital. King was in fair condition at Atlanta Medical Center. Two other players were in serious condition at Grady Memorial Hospital.

Most of the other players walked away with bruises and broken bones and returned home to Ohio during the weekend.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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