MINDEN, Iowa – A bus transporting a youth marching band from Wyoming to Indiana crashed and ended up on its side Monday in western Iowa, leaving more than three dozen people injured, authorities said.
Thirty-nine people were taken to hospitals in Omaha, Neb., and Council Bluffs, Iowa, after the crash on Interstate 80 near Minden, according to Jessica Lown, spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Public Safety.
No one suffered life-threatening injuries in the crash, and the group had boarded a new bus and resumed its trek to Indianapolis by early Monday afternoon.
"The vast majority of injuries are really minor — bumps and bruises," Lown said.
Investigators believe the accident happened after the motor coach blew a tire around 7:45 a.m., Lown said. The bus skidded off the interstate and landed on its side in a field.
The students are members of the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps, which travel around the country performing during the summer months. Members range in age from 14 to 21, said Lauren Baker, 21, of Sandy, Utah, who was on the bus when the crash happened.
"We were driving on the interstate and the tire blew out ... and we went down the hill, and slid on the left side of the bus," Baker said in an interview recorded by a hospital staff member at Mercy Medical Center in Council Bluffs. "We all just kind of climbed out the escape. Everyone was actually really calm."
The group had left Cheyenne, Wyo., the night before following a performance there, Baker said, and most were asleep when the crash occurred.
"I was awake," recalled Baker, who had just taken her seat when she heard the tire blow and felt the bus tip. "I didn't know what was going to happen to everybody."
Baker was treated for cuts to her left elbow. Her color guard colleague, Liz Portis, 21, of Cary, N.C., was treated at Mercy for a badly bruised arm.
"I was asleep. I didn't even hear the tire blow," Portis said. "The first thing I remember waking up was my arm against the window and instant pain."
Wearing a sling on her left arm, Portis recalled that she was briefly pinned under two other people who were thrown on top of her in the crash.
A rescue helicopter flew the bus driver to an Omaha hospital with serious injuries after he was pinned inside the vehicle, Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker said. He said the driver was released from the hospital by late Monday morning.
Mike Ottoes, executive director of the corps, said the driver, Brad Moe, suffered facial cuts in the crash.
Ottoes said the band was 40 minutes from where it planned to rehearse in Iowa when the accident occurred.
"We are very, very thankful for what could have been much worse accident," Ottoes said from Cheyenne, Wyo. "Everybody seems to be OK, and we're just very thankful for that."
According to the Troopers' web site, it's the only competitive junior drum and bugle corps in Wyoming. Founded more than 50 years ago, it participates in the Drum Corps International Summer Music Games tour during the summer months.