Investigation Ongoing After Passengers Injured In Burning Bus

Posted at 7:05 PM, Nov 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-30 22:44:59-05

An investigation has been underway after a bus carrying about 30 passengers had to be evacuated due to a fire in Springfield.

A spokesperson with Safe Harbor, a nonprofit organization in Clarksville that operates the bus, said its reputable mechanic and THP will be a part of the investigation.

Kenny Lane said at a press conference on Thursday that the Blue Board Coach had no major mechanical failures in the past and had undergone routine tests.

He added that the organization's main priorities right now are to attend to the victims and continue serving the community.

"We still got people who depend on us in the community to get to work so they can provide for their families at Christmas, and we can't shut down because we had an incident," said Lane.

Safe Harbor serves the homeless and ex-offenders, and has become the main mode of transportation for people needing to get to work.

At around 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the bus driving Macy's employees from a Portland distribution center to Clarksville caught on fire in the back along Highway 49 near Wilks Road. 

The bus reportedly started to roll back into the ditch as the passengers jumped out to safety.

"At first everybody was panicking. Nobody was moving then but once the bus started traveling downhill, everybody was running and jumping off," recalled Shataria Stacker, who was asleep in the back of the bus when she heard orders to get out. "It was scary because right when it started to go back, that's when it was a make or break decision."

A total of 11 employees were injured while trying to escape the bus. A Robertson County EMS official told NewsChannel 5 that they were sent to either NorthCrest Medical Center in Springfield or TriStar Skyline Medical Center, but the injuries were non-life threatening. 

As of Thursday afternoon, Lane said at least one woman remained at the hospital.

Stacker broke her right arm when she jumped out. She is thankful no one was killed and that many were there to help.

"I tried to get up and I couldn't get up. I remember getting frantic and hysterical after that. I remember a man trying to help me the whole time and carried my bag and cell phone while I was in panic mode and was telling me to calm down," recalled Stacker. 

Following the incident, a Macy's, Inc. spokesperson release a statement to NewsChannel 5:

"We are thankful that all passengers were evacuated. Our thoughts and prayers are with the passengers and their families. Safe Harbor is a valued partner as they transport many of Macy’s year-long and temporary holiday associates from Clarksville to Portland."

Lane said the bus driver is on leave while the investigation continued. 

The exact cause of the fire and what made the bus roll remained unknown.