Dozens injured in bus crash following Harvard visit

BOSTON (AP) — The scene could hardly have been more frightening for a Pennsylvania high school student just returning from a tour of Harvard University when the bus she was on slammed into an overpass, injuring dozens of passengers.

She did what most kids would do. She called her mother.

“She was screaming and crying and saying that the roof was caving in and that she couldn’t see anything, and she hit her head and she hurt her arm,” said Teresa Merrigan, describing the call from her daughter Alana.

Alana and the 41 others on the Calvary Coach bus had just begun the hours-long journey back to the Philadelphia area late Saturday. The driver, Samuel J. Jackson, was trying to navigate Boston’s confusing maze of roads and rotaries, famously challenging to out-of-towners. He looked down at his GPS and looked back up and saw the bridge but was too close to avoid hitting it, said Ray Talmedge, owner of the Philadelphiabus company.

Thirty-five people were injured in the crash, Massachusetts state police said. One person was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries and three with serious injuries.

Some passengers were trapped for more than an hour as rescue crews worked to free them, Massachusetts state police said. Firefighters stood atop the bus, part of its roof crumpled, and used boards to extract passengers, fire department photos showed. The bus suffered significant damage in the crash.

Authorities said the bus did not belong on Soldier’s Field Road, a major crosstown street where a 10-foot height limit is in place and oversized vehicles are not allowed. Signs warning of the overpass’ height restriction are “all over the place” on the road, Steve MacDonald, a spokesman for the Boston Fire Department, said Sunday.

Jackson, who was uninjured, “failed to heed signs” warning of the height limit, state police said, and he will likely be cited for an over-height violation. State police said they’ll also investigate how long Jackson was driving on Saturday, and the probe will determine if he faces more serious charges.

Talmedge, who said he didn’t know anything about the road restrictions, said Jackson also drives a school bus. No one answered the phone Sunday at a number listed for Jackson in Philadelphia.

The students were part of a Destined for a Dream Foundation group, Talmedge said.

The group’s Facebook page said the trip to Harvard was to “visit the campus, sit with the office of cultural advancement, followed by a tour of the campus ... followed by Harvard Square (shopping, eating, site seeing...etc...) This should be a fun time for all!”

Transit officials sent buses to pick up other passengers and get them out of the frigid temperatures.

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