Source AP ©

Tour bus crashes in Kentucky

A tour bus with members of an extended Alabama family veered off a southern Kentucky highway early Monday and slammed into an overpass, killing one person and injuring 66 others.

State police said the driver apparently dozed off shortly before 3 a.m. (0700 GMT), while most of the passengers were asleep. The bus veered off the interstate highway, struck an earthen embankment and rammed a concrete bridge pillar about 75 miles (120 kilometers) north of Nashville, Tennessee.

No charges have been filed against the driver, who was hospitalized in critical condition.

Red Cross officials said about half of the injured passengers were children.

Hours later, as authorities worked to remove the shattered bus from the roadside, children's pink suitcases, blankets and other luggage were still piled along the highway.

The bus had been rented by a family returning to Alabama from a reunion in Buffalo, New York. Trooper Steve Pavey said the reunion was at Niagara Falls, near Buffalo.

Mary Hill, who said most of those on the bus were her cousins, drove five hours from Alabama after learning that her brother was among the injured.

"He said everyone was so hysterical," she said. "Everyone was trying to find the kids."

The passengers included about 40 members of the Jackson family from Forkland, Alabama, and several town officials, said Cynthia K. Stone, city clerk in the west Alabama community of 630 people.

Kentucky State Police identified the woman who died as Carrie Walton, 71, who was thrown from the bus.

Walton was "a very lovely person," Stone said. "She was a wonderful mother, grandmother. Her family was the most important thing to her."

By early afternoon, a number of the injured passengers had been released from four hospitals and were taken to a shelter the Red Cross set up at a church. Some had bandages on their heads and arms, and some needed wheelchairs or crutches.

At least two of the injured passengers were reported in critical condition Monday afternoon, including one child and the driver, identified by state police as Abraham Parker, 63, of Birmingham, Alabama.