Greg Eubanks, an Alabama state trooper spokesman in Mobile, said a bus carrying 48 teenagers and two chaperones from Del Rio, Texas, to Orlando, Fla., slammed into the trailer of an 18-wheeler moments after it overturned just a few miles inside Alabama on I-10 about 12:30 a.m. CDT.
"The bus (driver) just didn't see it," Eubanks said. A second bus also full of students from Del Rio wasn't involved in the crash, he said.
Kelt Cooper, superintendent of the San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District, said 98 Del Rio High School students, mostly band members, were on the two chartered buses for a non-school sponsored trip. The truck flipped so quickly the bus couldn't avoid it, he said.
"The whole town is praying for these students. This is a big shaker," Cooper said.
State troopers said 22 people were hurt in all; Cooper said 26 were injured. Authorities couldn't immediately resolve the discrepancy, but Cooper said the most serious injury involved lung and liver injuries.
The two buses, which also were carrying two band directors and five other adult chaperones, departed Sunday for Orlando, Fla., on a trip to Disney World, Cooper said. No performances were planned.
The buses were chartered by some of the students' parents, something that has been done for several years after the school year ends, Cooper said. The last day of school at Del Rio High School, located in the border city of nearly 37,000 about 150 miles west of San Antonio, was Friday.
Authorities said the uninjured students were taken to a motel. It wasn't clear if they would continue the trip.
Troopers rerouted traffic off the eastbound side of the interstate, but one lane has since reopened. The truck was loaded with electronics including computers, which were scattered across the highway after the crash.
"It's a mess. We've been out here since 2 a.m. trying to get it cleaned up," said Susan Blackwell, whose husband operates a wrecker company.