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UPDATE: Bus hit by train in Biloxi, 4 dead

Photo courtesy Fox News

UPDATE Wednesday 3:30PM: 

Coroner Gary Hargrove has released all four names of the victims of yesterday’s train crash:

Clinton Havran, 79

Deborah Orr, 62

Ken Hoffman, 82

Peggy Hoffman, 73

The Hoffmans and Havran died on scene. Orr died later in surgery at Merit Health in Biloxi.

UPDATE Wednesday 2:13 PM: 

The Harrison County Coroner’s office has confirmed reports out of Texas that among the victims are former school administrators and husband and wife Ken and Peggy Hoffman. Both are former school administrators with the Lockhart Independent School District near Austin.

The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation regarding the train and bus collision on the crossing at Main Street in Biloxi on Tuesday.

NTSB investigator Robert Sumwalt brief the media on what they know so far.

“Our preliminary information shows since 1976, not including yesterday’s crash, there have been 16 vehicle-train collisions at this crossing,” said Sumwalt.

The two-man crew saw the bus halted on the tracks and attempted to stop, but it was too late.

“The crew attempted to go into emergency stop 500 feet before the collision,” said Sumwalt.

Sumwalt added that by the time the train made impact, it was still traveling 19 miles per hour. With three locomotives and over 50 mixed-freight cars, there wasn’t enough time to stop short of the bus.

Investigators with the NTSB will be on the scene for the next 5-7 days to understand what happened and why, to prevent future tragedies.

Those who witnessed the accident or who have relevant information or imagery for investigators should email witness@ntsb.gov.

Ward 2 Councilman Felix Gines arrived on the scene roughly 15 minutes following the collision.

“You could hear it,” said Gines. “Blocks away you could hear the impact. Then you could hear the sirens screaming that way.”

Gines said the sight was nothing short of horrific.

“There were bodies laid out everywhere,” said Gines. “And we saw the (results) of the accident.”

UPDATE Wednesday 7:57AM: Coroner Gary Hargrove tells News Mississippi that the names will be released later Wednesday morning.

The National Transportation Safety Board has announced the activation of a go-team to Biloxi to investigate the crash. Boots arrived on the ground Wednesday.

More about the NTSB investigation process here.

UPDATE 8:16: The death toll has officially reached four, according to coroner Gary Hargrove. The names of the victims, 2 men and 2 women, will be released Wednesday.

UPDATE: 6:13 Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove is confirming three dead. He is in the process of locating families before releasing the identification.

Vincent Creel, spokesperson for the City of Biloxi, said that the call came in around 2:30pm that the bus, which had stopped on the tracks for an unknown reason, was hit by a freight train.

Biloxi Police Chief John Miller said officials from Keesler Air Force base, the fire department, Harrison County officials and others were on scene to help with clean up an the investigation.

The chief added that there is no overnight answer to what happened, and a lengthy investigation will take place.

Update 4:18 p.m: Police have confirmed deaths and 35 in the hospital after a train collided with a charter bus in Biloxi.

3:50 p.m.:  At least three people are dead after a train collided with a charter bus in Biloxi.

Biloxi Police Department confirmed the accident.

Several people had to be airlifted from the scene and according to a witnesses the bus was occupied by senior citizens.

At least 50 people were believed to have been on the bus.

This is a developing story.

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