Mississippi bus crash victims starting to return to Alabama

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. -  After a tragic bus crash in Mississippi, some victims are beginning to be released from the hospital.

The bus was on its way from Huntsville to Tunica, Mississippi, to a casino. Someone who was on the bus told reporters that people from Huntsville were on board, along with others who were picked up in Decatur.

Two Huntsville women, Cynthia Hardin, 61, and Betty Russell, 70, died when a tour bus operated by Teague VIP Express overturned on Interstate 269 in Byhalia, about 35 miles southeast of Memphis. Law enforcement said it may take a while to learn all the details about the crash. Surviving patients were sent to five different hospitals in two different states.

But we are hearing from victims about the moments before the bus flipped.

Veronica Love remembers the moment she learned something wasn't right and they would not make it to Tunica.

"All of a sudden the bus started swerving then it spun around 2 times, hit the rail and then flipped over," she said, adding later, "The second spin, it started picking up speed. It was-- I mean, what could you do?"

Reporters spoke with Love as she was discharged and on her way home from the hospital to go back to Alabama with loved ones.

While the official cause of the crash has not been released, law enforcement officials have said weather played a role.

Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Capt. Johnny Poulos says witnesses told investigators that the driver lost control after crossing an icy overpass and the bus rolled over on the driver's side, coming to rest in the highway median. Poulos says investigators haven't yet concluded how fast the bus was traveling.

Love, who injured her shoulder in the crash, said she has taken the monthly bus trip to Tunica a few times before.

"This was the first time there was an issue," she told reporters.

We looked into Teague VIP Express, which is based in Anniston. It has an overall "Satisfactory" safety rating with a federal agency that regulates transportation.

But a 2017 compliance review from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows citations for vehicle maintenance, like worn steering system components, defective or missing axle positioning parts, and an inoperative turn signal.

Neither of the 2 drivers who were inspected had unsafe driving or alcohol violations with the FMCSA. And none of the company's 3 vehicles had been reported to be involved in any crashes.

No matter what happened on that road, Love is counting her blessings.

"I can't speculate on what this driver was doing. I just am thankful that I am alive," she stated.

It is still unclear if federal agencies, like the NTSB, will also step in.

We have also learned that a bus is waiting for crash victims to be released from the hospital, to take them to a hotel. Teague will provide the rooms and the bus will bring them back to Alabama on Thursday.