BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Several people watched in horror as a CSX train slammed into a charter bus Tuesday in Biloxi. Many of them rushed to aid the victims, but had a difficult time getting to the passengers on board. Austin Dominey was one of those witnesses.
"The train was honking and honking, but that bus had just looked like it had bottomed out over that hill. When it bottomed out, it tried backing up just a little bit, and then you could see the train just... and it was gone," said Austin Dominey.
According to witnesses, the charter bus had been stuck on the track for several minutes before the train came barreling down the tracks.
"I heard the train coming, and I had looked over my shoulder and seen the bus coming over the track. I looked back over my shoulder and once I had seen the bottom carriage was on the track, I knew it had sat down on the track. I knew it was stuck," said Craig Robinson.
Just before the collision, one witness saw the bus driver begin letting passengers off the bus.
"They were elderly people so they were kind of moving relatively slow. So, I think it was between five and six had gotten off the bus," said Craig Robinson.
Mark Robinson witnessed the accident as well.
"The impact of the train on the bus pushed the bus several feet, and everybody that was trying to get off was thrown underneath the bus or got ran over by the train and body pieces was thrown everywhere," said Mark Robinson.
Dominey, one of the first witnesses to approach the bus immediately after the crash, recalls an eerie calm.
"It was really quiet over there. I think everybody was mostly still in shock and disbelief. Everybody was just flabbergasted. No one really knew, like, what to do," said Dominey.
Dominey said it seemed like everyone who heard or saw the crash, rushed to aid the victims however they could.
"It was nice to see a community come together and, you know, help out like that, especially for people who were out of town," said Dominey.
Many of those we talked to said first responders were on the scene in less than five minutes. Several clergy members were present at the scene as well.
"We want to express our thanks to the clergy members who were on the scene this afternoon," Biloxi Fire Chief Joe Boney said. "We had clergy members from all denominations at the scene, assisting and comforting the injured, and, yes, providing Last Rites to those who perished."