Feb. 26--BOONEVILLE -- Students, bus drivers and coaching staff are safe after a Tuesday night fire that destroyed the bus on which the women's softball team was traveling, said Ricky Ford, executive Vice president at Northeast Mississippi Community College.
As of Wednesday morning the community and Northeast family were well on the way to replacing student belongings, including backpacks, books, iPads, laptops and other items to support them in the classroom, he said. Everything should be replaced by Friday.
The NEMCC women's softball team was traveling east on U.S. Highway 72 in Alcorn County late Tuesday night when the bus caught fire, reported Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Trooper Ray Hall.
"They were about halfway between Walnut and Corinth when the bus had a blowout," NEMCC's Ford said. "The bus driver pulled over. When he got out he saw smoke and flames and got the fire extinguisher to try to put the fire out. By then it had gotten to the hydraulic system and diesel and the fire engulfed the tire.
"With the strong wind, the flames blew under the bus, and the driver and coaches got the students off and to a safe location."
The college is working with the insurance companies to file necessary claims and get student belongings replaced.
This was the only college-owned bus, so NEMCC was already chartering a lot of its transportation, Ford said. The school has already arranged replacement transportation for groups that had the bus scheduled for future trips.
"The paramount thing is the students are safe, and the bus drivers and coaches are to be commended for securing the safety of our student athletes," he said. "They did a tremendous job."
Copyright 2014 - Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo