By: Zack Duvall
A charter bus, carrying passengers from a Bay St. Louis, Mississippi Casino to a casino in downtown Biloxi, was struck by a CSX train as it crossed the town’s Main street railroad crossing, killing four and injuring 35. Biloxi Police Chief John called the scene “terrible” and “chaotic” and the mayor of Biloxi called it a “tragic day” for the city.
The CSX train involved in the crashed was traveling from New Orleans, Louisiana to Mobile, Alabama when it collided with the bus at roughly 2;15 pm local time. The collision pushed the bus approximately 300 feet down the tracks before the momentum of the train ceased and was brought to a stop.
“I just want everyone to know that we’re doing everything we can do to help everyone on that bus.” Police Chief Miller told a gathering of reporters on the scene of the accident as emergency crews were still reaching victims of the crash trapped on the bus.
Multiple reports from witnesses to the accident scene, and subsequent rescue efforts say that emergency crews were still pulling victims, who appeared to be mostly elderly in age, from the crash well past 3 minutes after the accident took place.
The track that the crash occurred on is considered CSX’s “mainline” on the Gulf Coast and is responsible for freight delivery through the densely populated areas of southern Mississippi. The railroad crossing intersection where the accident itself took place has seen close calls and previous accidents in the past, with the most recent being two months ago when a Pepsi delivery truck got stuck on the tracks and was slammed by a CSX train as the driver waited for assistance.
CSX issued a statement immediately after news of the crash spread and while emergency personnel were still on scene working to help victims and work with CSX crews to investigate the cause.
“CSX personnel are working with first responders at a collision of a freight train and passenger bus in Biloxi, Mississippi. The collision this afternoon occurred at the main street crossing. The eastbound mixed freight train, traveling from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama had 3 locomotives and 52 cars, 27 loaded cars and 25 empty cars. The crossing has flashing lights and crossing gates. Authorities in Biloxi report fatalities and many injuries. Our thoughts are with all involved.”
The investigation into what exactly caused the crash is still unfolding and it remains unclear as to how such as crash occurred if the crossing lights and gates were fully operational, however alcohol or any other related cause does not appear to be a factor.