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Charter bus carrying Texas students crashes into ravine

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LOXLEY, AL (RNN) – The driver died and others were injured after a bus carrying high school band members to Texas from Disney World, crashed into a ravine on the Alabama-Florida line Tuesday.

Channelview Independent School District, which is located east of Houston, has confirmed band students from Channelview High School were on the bus to Houston after a spring break trip. The district's uperintendent, Greg Ollis, told the Houston Chronicle no students were seriously maimed and no one from the high school was in critical condition.

KTRK in Houston reported five people were seriously injured and one remained critical.

The bus ran off the highway and plummeted into the 50-foot ravine around 6 a.m. CT. Authorities believe about 45 people were on the charter bus bound for Houston. 

WALA said that first responders rappelled into the ravine to rescue passengers. Some victims were lifted up by ropes, some were carried out by deputies. First responders had to use the jaws of life to rescue passengers. An adult who is in critical condition had to be cut from the wreckage.

The bus driver, Harry Caligone, was a long-time driver for First Class Tours out of Houston. KPRC reports that safety records indicate the company has had four crashes in the last two years. Caligone's wife told KTRK she didn't think it was human error that caused the crash.

"Our prayers are with the injured and their families at this time. We pledge our assistance in cooperating with local authorities in the investigation," they said in a statement to KHOU.

The company says the will cooperate with authorities in the investigation, and sent their condolences to both Caligone's family and the victims' families.

Jesus Tejada captured the aftermath of the accident in a Facebook video which shows the bus wreckage on it's side in the ravine.

Interstate 10 was shut down in both directions about 20 miles east of Mobile, AL, during the time helicopters transported the injured to about 10 area hospitals. The interstate was closed for hours as officials rescued the victims.

Around 20 patients went to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, FL, while others were taken to hospitals in Baldwin County, including USA Medical Center in Mobile. WKRG in Mobile reported four patients remained at Sacred Heart, two in good condition and two in fair.

A second bus carrying students from the Disney trip is continuing on to Houston.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement saying that he and his wife Cecilia are heartbroken by the news.

"I pray for a speedy recovery for all those injured, and I am especially grateful for the heroic actions of the Alabama first responders that undoubtedly helped save lives today. Texas is prepared to offer any assistance necessary as we rally around the entire Channelview High School community during this difficult time," he said in the statement.

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