Driver Arrested in Crash of Bus Carrying U.S. Teen-agers
OXFORD, England (AP) _ The driver of a bus that overturned while carrying U.S. teen-agers in a special program at Oxford University, killing two Americans, has been arrested, police said Friday. All 59 others on board the bus were injured.
John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford reported Friday that 16 people were still hospitalized. One was in intensive care.
Police identified the dead as students Lawrence Levine, 16, of Chappaqua, N.Y., and Autumn Dubose, 18, of Lilburn, Ga.
The driver of the double-decker bus, Gan Sharma, was taken into custody Thursday night and charged with causing death by reckless driving, police said. They added that alcohol was not a factor in Thursday’s accident.
The driver, 40, was slightly injured. After his arrest, he was released on bail Friday pending further investigation, said Chief Inspector Laurie Fray of the Thames Valley Police.
The bus was carrying gifted U.S. students who were taking a four-week summer school course at Oxford University’s Magdalen College. The vehicle toppled as it turned off a highway near Wheatley, six miles east of Oxford, police said.
Fray said police intend to question Marilyn Whiteman, a 39-year-old cook.
She said Thursday the bus had passed her just before the crash at 80 to 85 mph. The British highway speed limit is 70 mph.
She said it suddenly turned left at the Wheatley turnoff without signaling and went out of control.
At Radcliffe Hospital, U.S. Ambassador Henry Catto spoke to the injured and to parents who flew here from the United States.
Brad Becker, 16, of Piedmont, Calif., told the ambassador there was panic on the bus when it went out of control.
″I said, ‘Oh my God 3/8’ and people started screaming. The bus just made it onto the grass and fell over. If it had fallen into the freeway, we’d all have plummeted into the path of cars. We’d have been killed - all of us,″ he said.
Becker suffered a broken vertebra.
Richard Klein, 16, of Greenlawn, N.Y., was on the top deck and ended up pinned unconscious under the bus. But he said he suffered very slight injuries and was ″lucky to be alive.″
Michael Kramer, 17, of New York, said, ″People really helped each other out. ... We are the luckiest people in the world.″ He suffered only minor injuries.
Diedre Walsh, a spokeswoman for the Oxford Advanced Studies Program in New York, said talks were under way at Magdalen College to decide whether the course should continue. The Advanced Studies Program in New York organized the trip.