CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - State police confirmed that speed is a factor in the crash on Powhite Parkway, near Chippenham, in Chesterfield that injured dozens of students who were on their way back to school after the Thanksgiving break.
Many of the bus crash victims are now out of the hospital and are speaking out for the first time.
"I was on the side that hit the ground and he was on the side that was catapulted," said Katie Stenzel, a freshman at Virginia Tech. Her brother, Jacob, was also on the bus, but they couldn't sit next to each other because it was too crowded.
The crash shut down Powhite Parkway. For a few tense moments, they couldn't find one another. "I was scared," Jacob Stenzel said. "I wasn't sure if she was still on the bus, so I was just yelling her name. One guy had me to the side and he told me to, 'Stay right here, you're bleeding a lot.'" He has a deep gash on the side of his face, while his sister has bumps on her head.
"The bus started turning and then it cuts out black. I just can't remember anything after that," said Daniel Wells, a junior at Virginia Tech. He now has a fractured clavicle, a concussion and bruises. "I remember hearing somebody was trapped under the back passenger side of the bus," he said. Walls also said the driver, Thomas Chidester, was taking a detour because there were too many accidents on the normal route.
State police said Chidester, who is with Abbott Trailways, was speeding on the ramp to get on the Chippenham Parkway Sunday night. Out of the 50 people on board, 34 students from Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia and Radford were injured. Another driver crashed into the bus.
It took hours for the students to claim their personal items from the bus. Wells, along with about two dozen people, stood out in the cold for hours at the towing facility where the bus was taken to reclaim their personal items. "Abbott told us they would have a representative out here at 8 a.m. and for an issue like this, we feel like it would be a more pressing issue," Walls said.
Four hours later a Richmond-area lawyer arrived. The families were told to let him know what was taken from the bus and to take a photo with the items. Families complained it was disorganized.
The owner of Abbott Trailways, John Abbott, said when he realized students couldn't claim their items, representatives were sent to the towing facility. However, the students' families said the company should have been better prepared to handle the situation.
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