Beardsley said it went left, hitting a snowbank at the edge of the median, which is actually a swale designed to slow and even stop vehicles that stray off the road. Instead, the bus went airborne over the median strip, he said.
“There were a lot of aerodynamics,” he said. “The snowbanks are 3 feet high, the bus became airborne, and had a lot of forward momentum. Then, it goes across the (northbound) highway and hits a snow bank again, and goes airborne again.”
One of the coaches, possibly head coach Richard Barron, watched as the driver slumped over, and jumped up to try to grab the steering wheel. However, as the bus lurched out of control, he was tossed into the door-well, according to one account of the accident.
Beardsley said the snow in the median strip, as well as snow on the northbound shoulder of the highway, along with a group of small trees, slowed and eventually stopped the bus, throwing the driver from his seat.
An off-duty Newburyport firefighter, who was driving on I-95 at the time, was one of the first people on the scene, Beardsley said.
“He said it looked like a can of worms with young ladies climbing out the windows,” according to Beardsley. “The driver had fallen down into the well of the bus. None of the doors would open. So, they climbed out the windows.”
Dep. Fire Chief Russ Moyer arrived first and took command of the scene.
“He did an outstanding job,” Beardsley said. “It freed me up to be eyes and ears on the ground and focus on safety.”
While Moyer took control of the overall incident, Lt. Craig Lampert was responsible for the extrication of the driver and Capt. Brian Gosse was in charge of emergency medical services, making sure that the 20 team members and staff got the treatment they needed.