GEORGETOWN — “It was a miracle, that’s all I can say.”
Georgetown fire Chief Albert Beardsley said that when a commercial passenger bus hurtled out of control, went airborne twice and slammed into a forest of small trees off the northbound side of Interstate 95 on Tuesday night, it was sheer luck that nobody was killed or more seriously injured.
Instead, the bus driver is in fair condition in a Boston hospital, one of the 17 players from the University of Maine women’s basketball team broke her wrist and the head coach was treated for minor facial cuts.
“We all wonder how the bus made it across the highway,” Beardsley said. “It was amazing. You cross over that highway at almost any time and there’s always a level of traffic on it.”
Not Tuesday night, fortunately.
Freshman guard Milica Mitrovic of Serbia broke her hand, and head coach Richard Barron was treated for minor facial cuts and bruises. The bus driver, Jeffrey S. Hamlin of Charleston, Maine, was listed in fair condition yesterday at Boston Medical Center.
About 8:25 p.m., the bus from John T. Cyr & Sons Inc. of Old Town, Maine, carrying 20 passengers, including 17 teammates and three coaches, was headed south on Interstate 95 in Georgetown. The bus had just passed the Jewett Street overpass when Hamlin was stricken with some kind of medical malady, possibly a heart attack.
Much to the horror of passengers, he slumped over the steering wheel and the bus began veering out of control.
Beardsley said it went left, hitting a snowbank at the edge of the median, which is actually a swale designed to slow and even stop vehicles that stray off the road. Instead, the bus went airborne over the median strip, he said.
Newburyport Deputy fire Chief Russ Moyer arrived first and took command of the scene.