A University of Maryland charter bus transporting 56 people ran into a light pole Wednesday morning, leaving at least 30 students with non-life-threatening injuries, according to Prince George’s County Fire Department spokesperson Alan Doubleday.
The fire department responded to the intersection of Route 1 and University Boulevard at 10:22 a.m., according to Doubleday. The daily commuter bus brings community members at this university to campus from Gaithersburg.
Passengers sustained head and mouth injuries, and at least one person was unconscious after the crash, multiple students told The Diamondback. The injured students were transported to local hospitals, Doubleday said.
The remaining students were either reunited with their families or sent onto a different bus to return to campus, according to university spokesperson Katie Lawson. The university sent people to the hospital to check in on the students affected, she added.
The Prince George’s County Police Department and the University of Maryland Police Department are investigating the cause of the crash, Doubleday said.
Junior information science major Tyler Vu was a passenger on the bus and said he heard the bus driver yell before the bus hit the pole. Vu said he saw some passengers’ mouths and heads bleeding after the crash.
“There was like a squad of ambulances coming to our scene,” Vu said. “I mean, people were just bleeding in their mouths.”
Vu was wearing a seatbelt when the accident happened and did not sustain any injuries, but estimated that a fraction of commuters who ride the bus each day consistently wear seatbelts.
Students did not receive medical help until about 20 minutes after the incident because the bus door jammed the passengers inside, according to senior operations management and business analytics and supply chain management major Hibah Beg, another passenger on the bus.
Beg hit her knee from the impact of the crash and received a knee brace and ice pack from a first responder. She said some students who needed medical attention remained at the scene for about 30 minutes after the accident.
The crash was “traumatizing” for Beg, who relies on the shuttle to get to campus each day.
“I had to stand there and see people with blood on their faces and hands and noses,” she said. “I have no way to get to campus aside from this bus, so I have to tough it out tomorrow morning because this is my only way to get there.”
This university tweeted its intention to provide students with support after the crash Wednesday. Lawson emphasized that the university’s main priority is that the students are safe and have accommodations during their recoveries.
“We’re going to be doing a lot of follow-up to make sure they have the academic resources they need, the mental health resources they need,” Lawson said.
This story has been updated.