Authorities said as a result of a bus crossing a median, a car was forced to swerve off the road early Sunday on Interstate 9, killing one person and injuring nine others near Benson. According to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol the crash took place shortly after 4 a.m. near mile marker 82 in Johnston County.
Police said the bus driver, 23-year-old Eric Jimmerson, of New York, N.Y., fell asleep while driving. Johnston County Assistant EMS Chief Billy Langston said the southbound bus crossed the median, then the driver tried to correct his mistake and crossed back into the southbound lanes, causing the car to swerve.
54-year-old Enid Ortiz, a passenger in the Ford Mustang involved in the incident was confirmed by troopers to have died on scene. 68-year-old Wilfredo Ortiz, was the driver of the mustang and swerved off the road to the right to avoid contact with the bus.
Ortiz’s vehicle came to rest after hitting a tree. Wilfredo Ortiz was treated at WakeMed and released late Sunday. There were two children in the Mustang, ages 12 and 13, who were also transported to WakeMed with non-life threatening injuries. The names of the children in the car were not released.
However they were identified as the grandchildren of the two adults in the vehicle. Jimmerson was ejected from the bus after crossing the median and later transported to WakMed.
He is listed as being in critical condition. The District Attorney is considering filing charges against Jimmerson. Chief Langston said the crash could have been worse if it had happened during a peak traffic time.
There were 48 passengers on the 60-seat bus. The bus is operated by Apex Coach located in Brooklyn.
The group was traveling from Queens, N.Y., to a religious conference at the Science of the Soul Study Center in Fayetteville. The group is described as a non-denominational organization that focuses on self-realization.
According to Langston four of the bus passengers were among the nine who were injured, including an infant. They were treated and released Sunday afternoon. The southbound and northbound lanes of I-95 were blocked but have now reopened.
The bus was towed from the scene, and the remaining passengers were placed on another bus.
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