More than 20 Greenwood High School students were transported to hospitals at mid-day Monday after their school bus crashed and fell onto its side on U.S. 82 in Carroll County.

Margaret Dean, spokesperson for the Greenwood School District, said the bus carried 40 students and three Greenwood High football coaches coming back from Starkville. She said the bus was being driven by head coach Clinton Gatewood.

The Commonwealth spoke briefly to Gatewood from Greenwood Leflore Hospital but he cut the call off after saying, "I want to be with my kids now."

Dean said 11 students were brought to the Greenwood hospital by ambulance or personal vehicle. Six students were taken to Tyler Holmes Memorial Hospital in Winona, and three were taken to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Grenada.

Ken Strachan, Carroll County's emergency management director, said a call came in to the Carroll County emergency dispatch center at 12:49 p.m. He responded to the scene at U.S. 82 and McCarley Road. He said one student was airlifted from the grassy median along the highway to a hospital in Tupelo for emergency treatment.

Sgt. Ronnie Shive, public information officer for the Mississippi Highway Patrol, said the airlifted student had suffered injuries to his head and neck. The student was taken to North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo after weather prevented the helicopter from heading to Jackson. Shive said the other students and coaches were reported with bruises and abrasions.

Senior defensive back Travor Randle told the Commonwealth the transported player was Davin Anderson, a junior defensive end who made the all-Commonwealth team as a sophomore.

Randle said the skill players go to Starkville on Mondays to play seven-on-seven football and were on their way home. He was in the third seat from the front of the bus, lying down, when the accident occurred.

Randle said he heard Assistant Coach Jimmy Stanford tell Gatewood, "Coach, you're running into the rocks over here," likely indicating the rocks that make up the shoulder of U.S. 82.

Randle said he didn't see anything but felt the bus swerving across the road before it flipped on its side. He said he ended up falling on top of fellow player Amir Wiggins, who was in the seat across from him, hitting his shoulder and head.

He said he blacked out for a minute and when he came to he was walking on top of the bus after the coaches guided players to get out through the emergency exits.

Besides Anderson, who Randle said hit his head, all the players and coaches on the bus suffered only bruises.

"My mother came and I just left with her," Randle said, adding most players had used their cellphones to call parents.” It all just happened so fast."

Shive said the initial investigation indicated that Gatewood, the driver, for an unknown reason lost control of the bus, and it left the pavement on the right side of the roadway. When Gatewood attempted to get back on the pavement, he overcorrected, crossed both lanes and left the roadway on the left side, Shive said. Gatewood again overcorrected and the bus flipped onto its side as it came back onto the pavement, Shive said.

Shive said troopers and Carroll County Sheriff's deputies had difficulty accounting for all the students and coaches involved in the crash as numerous parents arrived in their own vehicles and took groups of students from the scene. He said it became chaotic. 

Outside the Greenwood hospital, friends, family and former coaches gathered to check in on students and exchange information. 

• Contact Gavin Maliska at 581-7235 or gmaliska@gwcommonwealth.com. Contact Gerard  Edic at 581-7239 or gedic@gwcommonwealth.com.

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