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A Texas college is mourning the deaths of four students after a semi-truck slammed into a bus carrying the school’s female softball team as it headed home from a game Friday night in Oklahoma. “This is the most traumatic event that NCTC has had in its 90 years of history,” North Central Texas College President Brent Wallace said during a news conference.
The team’s bus was traveling southbound on I-35 near the town of Ardmore in southern Oklahoma at around 9 p.m. CT (10 p.m. ET) when a northbound semi-truck crossed a “wide” median and slammed into the bus, causing it to roll, authorities said. Three team members were killed at the scene and a fourth teammate died in the hospital, said Capt. Ronnie Hampton of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. The surviving 11 students were transported to nearby hospitals, Hampton added. Eight of the injured students were discharged Saturday and three remained in nearby hospitals in stable condition, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
The four women who died in the crash were identified by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol as Meagan Richardson, 19; Brooke Deckard, 20; Katelynn Woodlee, 18; and Jaiden Pelton, 20.
Coach Van Hedrick, 48, who was driving the bus, refused treatment at the scene, Hampton said. The driver of the semi-truck, Russell Staley, 53, was transported to Paul’s Valley Hospital. The NTSB launched an investigation, and Hampton said Oklahoma authorities would pursue a homicide investigation.
The softball team had just played a game against Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Oklahoma, and was about 40 miles from their school on the Texas border when the crash occurred. “We lost 4 beautiful amazing girls tonight,” read a post on the North Central Texas College Softball Facebook page. “We have a long road ahead of us but with power of God we will overcome!”