A football team bus crashed on the highway, killing four people, while it was carrying Clinton College’s team. In addition, 42 other passengers, whose injuries ranged from minor to critical, were taken to area hospitals. The bus’ front left tire blew, which made the bus travel out of control into the median.
The bus hit the guardrail and sideswiped a concrete bridge column, according to CNN’s report. The team was traveling from Rock Hill, South Carolina to compete against the University of God’s Chosen, which is located in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
What makes bus accidents so dangerous is that almost all of the safety devices that have made cars increasingly safer, don’t exist on buses. There are no airbags and few buses have seat belts. One argument against more safety measures is that buses weigh so much that they rarely stop as fast as a car. Here the bus hits concrete, stopping it immediately.
The range of injuries probably included traumatic brain injuries, which in more serious cases can cause prolonged loss of consciousness or coma, and in mild cases, may occur without a loss consciousness. (Mild traumatic brain injuries are concussions.) The material of the brain has been compared to warm butter, by Dr. Erin Bigler of Brigham Young University.
Another analogy is that the brain moves around in the skull like jello. When the brain strikes the skull, it can bounce back to the other side of the skull, causing damage on both sides of the brain. This would be called coup contrecoup injury.
When the brain collides with the hard skull, or the skull collides with another hard object like the windshield, damage can occur to the brain. The skull can be fractures, and there may or may not be an open wound as a result. Blunt trauma occurs when the skull hits a hard object without penetration.
According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the third leading cause of traumatic brain injury (14 percent), and the leading causes of TBI-related death (26 percent) among all age groups. Teens and young adults have the highest rates of motor-vehicle-related TBIs. To prevent motor-vehicle-related TBI, the CDC recommends wearing a seatbelt. However, on many buses there may not be any seatbelts, or people may not want to wear them.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in the United States. In one year time frame, the medical costs and productivity losses associated with injuries from motor vehicles crashes exceeded $80 billion.
The more critical injuries may take months and years to heal, but there is hope after brain injury. Although it may be difficult, people can return to their pre-injury baseline levels with proper care. This tragedy in North Carolina is no different. Our thoughts are with the victims of the crash in their recoveries.