Tragedy Touches Bluffton

(CBS)
Bluffton is a small college - just over 1,110 students on a pleasant campus in the heart of Northwest Ohio. It's the kind of place where, even if you don't know another student's name, you recognize their face. The bus accident has touched everyone here.

Many of the students heard about the bus accident early this morning. Some didn't believe it. This afternoon, one group of students, mostly athletes, talked about the shock — the sense of loss they felt when they first learned their fellow students had died. One described the feeling on campus today as surreal. Classes were cancelled, students gathered in the gym for updates on the investigation, watching news reports on television monitors, waiting to learn the names of those who had died.

Senior Jake Slager told CBS News he was one of those who was skeptical this morning. When he first heard the news, he did what many other students did — went on line, pulled up the pictures, and immediately recognized the name of the bus executive. The ill-fated bus was owned by Executive Coach Luxury Travel of Ottawa, Ohio. CBS News investigative producer Phil Hirschkorn reports that the company had a good safety record.

The charter bus pulled out of Bluffton late Thursday afternoon with 35 students and coaches, headed for a series of baseball games in Florida. Just before dawn this morning, at 5:30am, the bus ran off an overpass in Atlanta, plunging 24-feet onto route I-75. Four students, the driver and the driver's wife were killed.

Bluffton is affiliated with the Mennonite Church in the USA. In keeping with that religious tradition, last night, prayers were offered for a safe journey for the team. Now there are prayers for the souls of the dead and the family and friends who mourn them.
  • Randall Pinkston

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