ALBUQUERQUE – A man traveling to California with his pregnant longtime girlfriend said it seemed like the world was ending after a semitruck smashed into their commercial passenger bus on a New Mexico highway.
Joseph Chandler told Albuquerque television station KOB-TV that he picked up his girlfriend, Christy Westerdale, who was seven months pregnant with twins, and carried her off the Greyhound bus after the crash that killed eight people Thursday.
“When I looked around the bus, everyone was bleeding, faces, ears, nose, mouth. I just snapped and said, ‘Everybody, let’s get off the bus one at a time. Let’s go, let’s go!’” Chandler said Monday.
Westerdale had to deliver the couple’s twins prematurely because of injuries she suffered in the crash. The newborns were listed in critical condition Tuesday at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.
Chandler told Albuquerque television station KRQE that it will be a tough road ahead, but he’s thankful his family is alive.
“They’re awesome. They’re beautiful babies. They’re doing so good,” he said. “Everybody is complimenting on how they’re just perfect babies for 29 weeks.”
Westerdale said she didn’t remember anything, only waking up in the ambulance and thinking about her babies: “I was just praying, hoping they were OK.”
Westerdale broke bones and had numerous cuts, her 4-year-old daughter suffered minor injuries and Chandler had severe internal bruising.
Besides the twins, several people remained hospitalized Tuesday after authorities said the semitrailer lost control when the tread on its front left tire separated and crashed head-on into the bus.
The crash killed eight people, including the bus driver, and about two dozen passengers were injured. Five adults were still being treated in Albuquerque, and another one was in good condition at a hospital in Gallup, New Mexico.
State police and federal authorities are investigating the crash, testing evidence collected from the wreckage and going through safety and other records.
“The investigators are still diligently going through all the details, a task that will take quite some time with a tragedy of this magnitude,” State Police spokesman Officer Ray Wilson said in an email.