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Bus Crash Victim: "People Were On Top Of People"

crash victim Dan Risik
Dan Risik, 73, was among those traveling on a chartered North Texas bus that crashed on Highway 161 in Irving. (credit: CBSDFW.COM)

IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) - Some North Texas residents are still shaken after a bus, chartered to take passengers to an Oklahoma casino, crashed on State Highway 161, in Irving.  Of the more than 40 people traveling on the bus at least 36 received injuries, ranging from minor to critical, and two people were killed.

Most of the passengers on the Cardinal Coach Line bus were elderly. The group was headed out for a day of gambling at the Choctaw Casino Resort, in Durant, Oklahoma.

It wasn't the first time bus passenger Daniel Risik decided to spend the day trying his luck. "I'm retired. I generally go to Winstar every week, on the buses they have, but I decided for a change of pace to go to the Choctaw."

The 73-year-old Fort Worth man belongs to a group that makes the rounds, traveling to different casinos for fun. "This lady, her name is Casino Sue, every quarter or so she charters a bus to go to Choctaw and a lot of the people are kinda regular," he explained.

Risik was among a group of people that were picked up from a big box store parking at Interstate-30 and Eastchase. He said the bus had made one last stop in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford area and was headed out when everything went wrong. "It happened pretty quick. We were just kinda going down the road and all of a sudden heard like a crashing sound. Like it [the bus] ran into something."

Risik, who was sitting in the middle of the bus on the right hand side, said the next thing he knew, "The bus started to shake vehemently and it turned over on its right side. People were on top of people, screaming, hollering, yelling for help."

Among those yelling for help was a friend that Risik was traveling with. "[There was a lot of] commotion, people screaming whatever… hollering for help," Risik said. "My buddy, I was on top of him, was telling me 'Please get off me. Please get off me.' [But] I couldn't because a lady was on my leg and she couldn't move."

Risik said he and those around him were helpless, unable to do anything to help themselves. "I felt some blood coming down my face, but I just couldn't get dislodged from this woman that was entangled with my foot. I couldn't get out from under her to get out, or get up to get help to get out of the bus."

There were Good Samaritans who stopped and tried to help some passengers from the bus, but Risik couldn't be assisted until first responders arrived. "The emergency response teams showed up and did their best to try and untangle and get people out of there," he said. "It's a very, very difficult situation to get to some of some of these people. I think they did a good job. There were lots of ambulances, and CareFlite, police, and fire and rescue and all kinds of folks there."

Risik said emergency crews were rescuing people through the roof of the bus and from side windows. "The rescue people arrived and started to try and go through the air vents… came in through there to try help people," Risik recalled. "[They] opened up the top and the emergency glass windows and did whatever they can (sic) to try to get people out of there the best they could. Some were in very, very terrible shape."

Most of the bus passengers did not have life threatening injuries. Local hospitals report many suffered broken bones. Risik said he has some scrapes, a bloody nose and a sore back. "After hearing what I've heard and seeing what I've seen in person, I feel extremely fortunate to be virtually injury-free. A few scrapes or whatever, other than that I feel very lucky."

Risik was among the half a dozen or so bus passengers who were treated and released from Baylor Medical Center at Irving. At last check there were still six other patients from the bus crash being treated at the hospital.

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