ODESSA, Texas – Eight inmates and two corrections officers died Wednesday when a prison bus skidded off an icy West Texas highway, slid down an embankment and collided with a passing freight train, authorities said.
The overpass on Interstate 20 was slick with ice Wednesday morning when the Texas Department of Criminal Justice bus left the roadway in Penwell, just west of Odessa, according to Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson.
An earlier accident on the overpass may have contributed to the prison bus losing control, Donaldson said.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed the 10 deaths in a statement, adding that four prisoners and one corrections officer were injured.
"It's as bad as you can imagine," Odessa Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Kavin Tinney told the Odessa American newspaper. "In 32 years it's as bad as anything I've seen."
Tiffany Harston, spokeswoman for Medical Center Hospital in Odessa, said four of the injured are in critical condition and one is in serious condition.
Jason Clark, a spokesman for the Department of Criminal Justice, said the bus was taking the inmates from the Middleton prison in Abilene to the Sanchez prison in El Paso. The prisoners were handcuffed together in pairs.
No Union Pacific employees were injured.