This trip was supposed to be Nancy Richardson's first attempt at a long bus ride after her last such excursion abruptly ended when her bus crashed.
But it happened again.
Richardson was among 45 passengers and the driver injured early Friday when their Greyhound bus was hit head-on by a sport utility vehicle traveling the wrong way on Interstate 65. Some were jarred awake and banged into seats in front of them or were pitched into the aisle.
The SUV's driver, Joseph Rudder, 45, of Hope Hull, was killed. Montgomery Police Capt. Huey Thornton said Rudder was alone in the vehicle and died at the hospital about an hour after the collision.
The driver of the bus, Cedric Davis, 36, of Stone Mountain, Ga., and all 53 passengers were taken to Baptist Medical Center South, where all but eight requested treatment. Davis said the bus had just left Montgomery and was on the way to Mobile when the collision occurred.
Richardson said she was awake and sitting near the back of the bus when the driver slammed on the brakes.
"We slid and that's when I heard the big crash," she said.
"The fellow that was sitting like two seats above me opened up his window because he had cut his mouth and he was spitting blood out. That's when he turned around and looked back and seen the SUV in the median."
"He said, 'Wow! That thing is demolished!"' she said. "That's when I looked and said, 'Wow, we really did hit a vehicle."'
"There was some screaming .... but it's hard to describe," said Richardson. "It was more shock than anything."
Edwin Saah, of Manchester, Mass., was headed to Houston when the wreck occurred.
"I was asleep, but I fell on my face and that's what woke me up," said Saah, whose lip was busted and bleeding. He described himself as shaken but fine as he waited for a replacement bus.
Thornton said Davis received treatment for leg injuries and the passengers were treated for "non-life-threatening injuries ranging from minor bumps and bruises to minor lacerations of the lips, as well as neck and back pains."
Hospital spokeswoman Melody Ragland said all but one of the passengers had been discharged by late morning. The one remaining patient was in serious but stable condition, she said.
Davis was also hospitalized, but his condition was not immediately known, Greyhound spokesman Eric Wesley said.
Richardson's elbow was badly bruised and her 18-year-old daughter had a scraped and swollen chin. The two were on their way from their Richmond, Va., home to the University of Houston for a campus tour.
"The last time I was on the bus we were going to New Jersey and that bus was in an accident, too," she said, her right arm cradled in a navy blue sling. "I'm not going to do another one."
Thornton said the crash occurred shortly after police were dispatched at 2:16 a.m. to pursue a vehicle going the wrong way and it was not immediately known why Rudder was traveling northbound in the southbound lane of the interstate.
Wesley said three replacement buses were provided to take passengers to their destinations and the company was working to make alternate arrangements for some who decided not to continue their trips.
The accident was the second such incident in Montgomery in four months. On March 31, a car heading the wrong way on Interstate 85 collided with a Greyhound in the middle of the night, killing the car's driver and injuring 20 people.
It was also one of three occurrences involving Greyhound buses on Friday.
In Benton, Ill., volunteer firefighter James Miller, 43, was struck and killed by the driver of a Greyhound bus along an interstate as he worked to clear the scene of an accident early Friday. No charges have been filed and no other injuries were reported.
Also on Friday, a Greyhound bus caught fire as it traveled south on Interstate 75 in central Kentucky. The bus driver pulled over after some passengers reported smelling smoke. The bus was evacuated and no injuries were reported.
"We've had a pretty unusual day today," Wesley said. "I've never seen anything like this where we've had this many incidents in one day. It's not the norm."