BYHALIA, Miss. (AP) – An Alabama tour bus drives into a Mississippi casino on an icy highway on Wednesday, killing two people dead and injuring 44 others aboard, the authorities said as a pre-winter storm spanned parts of the south and lower Midwest destroyed.
The National Weather Service says snow and ice fell over parts of Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri during the day. Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois. Snow and ice are forecast on Thursday and Friday for areas of Ohio and the Appalachian Mountains across Washington, DC, New York and New England from the northeast storm.
Witnesses told Mississippi investigators that the bus driver lost control after a crossing An icy overpass and the bus rolled over on the driver's side and came to a standstill at 12:35 pm in the midlands of Interstate 269 in Byhalia, said the spokesman for Mississippi Highway Patrol Captain Johnny Poulos. This Mississippi town is approximately 55 kilometers southeast of downtown Memphis, Tennessee.
70-year-old Betty Russell and 61-year-old Cynthia Hardin, both from Huntsville, Alabama, were killed. DeSoto County Coroner Joshua Pfünder The casualties were taken to hospitals in the Memphis area, with at least three Wednesday evening in earnest Condition were. Officials said the group had been forced from Huntsville, Alabama, to play in a casino in Mississippi's Tunica district about 65 kilometers west.
The red tour bus with white and gray stripes was later towed by the crash The windows are largely missing and the smell of gasoline remains in the air. On the driver's side were large scratches and other damage.
Poulos said the investigators have not yet determined how fast the bus is traveling. He said the road was icy, the investigators had in their investigation no signs of slowing down.
"We can not say exactly what the vehicle did," said Poulos, adding that more insights could be available on Thursday.  The bus was operated by Teague VIP Express in Anniston, Alabama. The company posted a message on its Facebook page saying, "Our hearts and prayers go to the victims of this tragedy. Please leave all those involved and families in their prayers."
The company has only three buses and three drivers license information from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The agency rates Teague with a satisfactory rating and does not list any crashes in the last two years.
According to the agency, Teague failed three random unannounced inspections in February 2017: A bus was ordered off-road due to worn, welded or welded vehicles Missing steering components and a second bus was due to steering problems and faulty or missing Axle parts ordered outside the street. Records show that a third bus was ordered off the road due to cracked or broken rims or rims.
A Teague driver was taken out of service in September 2017 after a stop in Alabama found that the driver did not have the required service. Record information according to the records.
There was no indication that the crash on Wednesday was related to the violations.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration spokesman Willam DeBruyne declined to comment on Teague VIP's security records. He said a bus was only decommissioned for "imminent danger."
"It's so outrageous that the vehicle can not be operated," he said.
The coroner declined to describe the causes of the bus deaths and no autopsies were planned.
In Washington, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Keith Holloway said the federal agency has not yet decided whether to investigate the Wednesday crash.
It was the second field trip with a bus into a Mississippi casino city ending in deaths in two years. A bus that brought Texas seniors to a Gulf Coast casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, got stuck on the rails and was hit by a freight train in March 2017. The accident resulted in four deaths and 38 injuries. The NTSB noted that the probable cause of the crash was the failure of a railroad and the city to work together to improve the safety of a sharp-edged railroad crossing, which was known to cause occasional vehicle jamming.
Around the Upper South Meanwhile, the storm spread with scattered sleet and light snow. Flash flood watches have been posted for parts of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. Frost warnings were posted south of the Gulf Coast. In Virginia, NASA said, the scheduled launch of an unmanned cargo missile to the International Space Station had to be delayed one day because of the weather on Thursday. The unmanned Cygnus cargo ship is set to take off from Wallops Island on the east coast early this Friday and fly high with supplies and research equipment for the astronauts.
Amy reported from Jackson, Mississippi and Sainz from Byhalia, Mississippi. Jay Reeves, Associated Press, contributed to this report from Birmingham, Alabama.