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University of South Carolina student takes the wheel to stop bus after driver is ejected in crash that injured 11

By Sara Smart, CNN

(CNN) — At least 11 people – including 10 University of South Carolina students and a bus driver – were injured when a charter bus crashed in southern Mississippi Friday afternoon on the way to New Orleans for a fraternity formal, according to the university.

“The University of South Carolina was informed tonight of an accident in Mississippi involving a charter bus carrying USC fraternity members and their guests traveling to an event in New Orleans,” the university said in a statement to CNN.

The bus was carrying 56 students when it crashed around 3 p.m. on Interstate 10 in Hancock County, according to a news release from the Mississippi Highway Patrol. Nine students were taken by ambulance to a local hospital, while the bus driver and another student were airlifted in critical condition.

The driver lost control of the bus after one of its tires blew out, Bay St. Louis Police Chief Toby Schwartz told CNN affiliate WLOX.

“According to what students said, she stood on that steering wheel with every ounce of energy to keep that steering wheel straight,” Schwartz said of the driver.

At one point, the wheels on one side of the bus lifted into the air, causing the bus to lean on one side. When the bus came back down on all wheels, the front windshield shattered and the driver was ejected, according to Schwartz.

But the bus kept moving. The bus traveled “out of control” for half a mile on the interstate, Schwartz said.

In what Schwartz described as a “heroic action,” a student grabbed ahold of the wheel and regained control of the bus, bringing it to a stop.

“Because of the bus driver’s quick actions, and then the students’ quick actions, right now we don’t have any fatalities,” Schwartz said.

The crash remains under investigation by Mississippi Highway Patrol.

“USC is working closely with local authorities on the scene to obtain updates on our students and to assist in whatever capacity we can,” the university said. “Our thoughts go out to the students involved in the accident and those affected by it.”

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