A Royal Excursion charter bus headed from the Four Winds casino in Michigan back to the South Bend, Indiana area was involved in a fatal crash in LaPorte County, Indiana. State police have indicated that the accident was caused by the weather conditions, which included blowing snow.
The accident took place at approximately 3:30 in the afternoon when a pick up truck driven by 36-year old John Kallok of Griffith, Indiana started drifting westbound across highway 20 and into the eastbound lanes where it encountered oncoming traffic.
A representative of the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department indicated that the inclement weather was at faul and the pick up apparently lost control. The driver swerved directly into the path of the oncoming bus, which was carrying over a dozen passengers. The driver was declared dead at the scene after having been extricated from his vehicle by local fire departments. Paramedics on the scene report that he was trapped in the wreck, and and the “jaws of life” apparatus was required to free him. The coroner reports that he died of blunt force trauma.
The bus passengers sustained minor injuries, with 15 adults taken to local hospitals for wounds that were described as non-life threatening. The brand new vehicle was equipped with seatbelts, and the bus driver is credited by police for his quick reactions and response, which prevented the bus from rolling over. According to police, the diver drove his large vehicle through a ditch and then slid 300 feet off of the road into a nearby cornfield. The sheriff’s department indicated that it was “miraculous” that the bus did not overturn, pointing out that the vehicle narrowly missed hitting a tree line and that the front windshield was shattered.
The Royal Excursion company issued a public statement that read: “We pray for comfort and strength during this sorrowful and difficult time. We extend compassion to the passengers who suffered injuries and to all passengers on-board. We are working to make sure that those who were injured received immediate medical attention.”
The accident scene required seven ambulances and medic teams to transport the bus passengers to local hospitals.