On September 17, a charter bus driving on U.S. Highway 74 near Rockingham, North Carolina crashed into a guardrail and then side swept a concrete bridge column when the front left tire blew out. Four passengers died as a result of the crash while forty-two passengers were injured.
The injured passengers were taken to local hospitals. The injuries range from minor to critical. As of September 18, twenty-two of the injured passengers have been released from local hospitals. Among the passengers were members of the Ramah Juco Academy football team from Rock Hill, South Carolina who were travelling to a game in Raeford, North Carolina.
A preliminary investigation by the North Carolina State Highway Patrol found that the accident was caused by a tire failure. While it is believed that the blown front tire caused the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the accident and checking the tires on the bus.
The bus is owned by the Sandy River Baptist Church in Chester, South Carolina. Reports indicate that buses owned by churches are exempt from safety regulations and as a result, the buses are not properly maintained. It remains unclear whether the Ramah Juco Academy football team paid the church to charter the bus for their game. However, if the football team did pay the church, the church would be required to follow commercial rules and inspections.