Bus carrying LCBC Church students home from retreat crashes, 30 hurt

The Associated Press

DONALDSON, Pa. — A bus carrying high school students and leaders returning from a church retreat crashed in Pennsylvania, injuring more than two dozen people, at least three critically, authorities said.

State police in Schuylkill County said the bus was heading south on Interstate 81 in Frailey Township shortly after 2:30 p.m. Sunday when it went out of control near the Hegins exit, struck an embankment and went into a wooded area. 

State police said 32 people were injured and five were flown hospitals by medical helicopters. Three remained in critical condition Monday, police said.

LCBC Church said 31 high school freshman and sophomore girls as well as volunteer leaders from the Manheim campus in Lancaster County were in one of three buses returning from a high school ministry retreat at Lake Champion in New York. The other two buses arrived safely.

LCBC also has a campus in Springettsbury Township. 

As of Sunday evening, two-thirds had been discharged while one-third remained hospitalized, officials said.

"Please join us in praying for those involved in the accident, their families and friends, our staff and our entire LCBC family," the church said.

People gather at the scene after a Premiere #1 Limousine bus crashed into a wooded area off I-81 in Frailey Township, Pa., on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. The bus was traveling on I-81 south and came off the Hegins exit ramp, crossing through the divider on Rt. 25 and crashing into a wooded area off Rt. 25 where it came to a stop. (Jacqueline Dormer/Republican-Herald via AP)

Police said Monday that the 37-year-old driver, who was seriously injured, was interviewed at the scene and would be interviewed later at the hospital, police said. 

Tremont's fire chief talked to WNEP-TV about the challenge of getting the injured out of the bus.

"When something like this happens, it's people shaking all around the bus. It takes some time to get in and get people out of the situation," Chief Brian Eisenacher said. "The guys on the bus did a great job. We took out what we had to take out. Everybody was out and on their way to the hospital pretty quickly."

Police said the cause of the crash is under investigation.