ALBUQUERUQE, N.M. – Some callers were breathless and others were crying as they flooded emergency phone lines to report the aftermath of a deadly weekend bus crash on a dark New Mexico highway.
“There’s children bleeding, there’s people unconscious,” a female caller tells a dispatcher. “They’re pulling them out of the bus right now. The bus flipped over.”
Authorities on Tuesday released 911 recordings and dispatch communications from the night of the crash along Interstate 25.
They have yet to release the names of the three people who were killed, saying only that one was the driver of a car that slammed into a pickup truck and started the chain-reaction crash.
Authorities have said the bus driver tried to avoid the wreckage but lost control.
The bus – headed from Denver to El Paso, Texas – crossed into oncoming lanes and rolled on its side before it was sideswiped by a semi-truck. Twenty-four people were injured.
One of the first calls came from the pickup driver, who told dispatchers that his truck came to rest in the median of the interstate near Bernalillo. It was just after 2 a.m. and he was on his way to pick up his granddaughter from work.
The man told the dispatcher he was uninjured and was walking back toward the other car as speeding traffic approached.
“Hey, slow down! Slow down! Slow down!” he yells while on the phone. “Get somebody out here in a hurry. Traffic is coming in real fast.”
Within moments, there was more urgency.
“Oh my God. You hear that? There are more accidents,” he says.
The first police and emergency responders on the scene are heard in the recordings asking dispatchers to send more help from surrounding communities. They said they need more ambulances for an estimated 30 to 40 patients. Some people who were trapped in the bus were extricated using a tool that pries open parts of a vehicle.
Photos showed the bus on its side and a mangled car that was almost entirely flattened.
Dispatchers also received requests from officers to close the interstate as the wreckage was blocking both directions.
“We have a huge scene,” says one rescuer with the Sandoval County Fire Department.
Authorities have said that emergency responders reported treating 38 people at the scene with injuries ranging from broken bones and lacerations to head and internal injuries.
Several patients were treated and released soon after the crash. Ten remained hospitalized as of Wednesday, but officials at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque said none was listed in critical condition.