A 19-year-old University of Maine women’s basketball player described the frightening moments as a bus carrying her and her teammates careened across Interstate 95 in Georgetown Tuesday and slammed into the woods, injuring more than 20 people.
“Someone yelled ‘hold on!’ and we braced ourselves,’’ said Courtney Anderson, a sophomore at the school. “There was much screaming. We were just trying to figure out what to do next.’’
She said the aftermath of the crash was “strangely calm.’’
The bus, carrying the varsity women’s basketball team, veered off Interstate 95 South around 8:30 p.m., crossed the median, and shot across all four northbound lanes of traffic before crashing into the woods. The crash crumpled the front end of the bus, left the bus driver seriously injured, one player with a broken hand, and the team’s coach with minor facial lacerations.
Anderson was not injured in the bus crash. She said those on the bus were doing well, but it was hard to gauge everyone’s mental status. The team traveled back to Maine on Wednesday.
“Today on our bus there were seat belts,’’ she said, which the team used. “It wasn’t great to be stepping back on a bus after what happened yesterday, but we understand it was a freak accident and that it won’t necessarily happen every day.
“It’s great to be home. Everyone was very welcoming when we got off the bus today.’’
Three team members were also taken to the hospital for observation, including 20-year-old Courtney Anderson of Greene, Maine.
Anderson’s mother, Tammy, was relieved the accident did not turn out worse for her daughter and the other people on the bus.
“It’s just a miracle to me that they just didn’t get hit, that they made it across the highway without anyone hitting them,’’ Tammy Anderson said.
In the hours that followed the crash, the mother said, she was happy with how the university handled the situation, receiving two phone calls from the school explaining where the team was, what the team was doing, and where they were heading.
Wednesday night’s scheduled game against Boston University was postponed due to the crash., though Anderson said she was a bit worried about her daughter’s ride home.
Also Wednesday, State Police identified the driver of the bus as Jeffrey Hamlin, 55, of Charleston, Maine.
Officials said Hamlin suddenly slumped forward while driving at around 8:30 p.m. The bus then went out of control, despite efforts by coaches.
Hamlin was released Wednesday from Boston Medical Center.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation by State Police.