Six people died Tuesday morning in a "horrific" crash that involved a Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) bus, a school bus and a Mustang, Baltimore City Police said.
Five of at least 13 people aboard the MTA bus were killed, including the 33-year-old woman driving; the 67-year-old man driver of the school bus also died. The medical examiner will try to determine whether he suffered a medical emergency before the crash.
A 61-year-old woman, 51-year-old man, 46-year-old woman and 32-year-old man also died.
An aide who suffered minor injuries was the only other person aboard the school bus at the time of the crash; no children were aboard. The school bus had been on its way to pick up a student four or five blocks away, Baltimore police spokesman Chief T.J. Smith said.
He called the site of the crash a "horrific" scene, saying it's the worst he's seen in his career.
School Bus Hit Mustang, Pillar Before Crashing Into MTA Bus
The crash happened about 7 a.m. at Frederick Avenue and Monastery Road in Baltimore.
According to the investigation, the school bus was headed east on Frederick Avenue when it crashed into a Mustang and careened down the road until it struck the MTA bus head on, ripping off the side of the bus.
"It literally looks like a bomb exploded in the bus, and it's catastrophic damage," Smith said.
There were no skid marks at the scene.
"The way he was going, I thought he had no brakes," witness Bernell James said. "He couldn't stop. He picked up speed and couldn't stop."
The driver of the Mustang, who crashed into a fence after being struck by the bus, said tearfully that he felt he was lucky to be alive.
"I saw lights and then I was struck," he said, adding that his heart goes out to the victims.
A witness said he saw the school bus rear-end the Mustang and keep going.
"The car stopped there and the bus just kept going, like it picked up more speed," he said. "So it picked up speed and... I guess had a head-on collision with the MTA bus. It sounded like a bomb just exploded, like, 'Boom!' And when you looked up, all you see was the bus just stopped dead in its tracks right there."
Matthew Feldman, a passing driver, said he was one of the first people at the scene Tuesday morning. He told WJZ-TV that he and another man pulled up and tried to help people before emergency responders arrived.
Feldman said he and the other man tried to pull glass off of a woman pinned by the door of the MTA bus, and could hear people screaming. He said the driver's side of the MTA bus was a mess of twisted metal.
8 Taken to Hospitals; Crash Under Investigation
Ten people were injured, and eight were taken to hospitals with injuries ranging from minor to critical, Smith said. A 40-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman are in critical condition.
Five of those injured -- four women in their mid-20s to mid-40s and a man in his mid-20s -- were taken to Baltimore Shock Trauma, said Dr. Deborah Stein, chief of trauma. A woman has been released.
"I will say that given the nature of the incident, we certainly had all hands on deck...." Stein said.
Stein said she did not know which hospitals the other injured people were taken to.
Smith said mid-morning Tuesday that at least five people were killed on the MTA bus.
"This is a complicated crash scene," Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said. "It's going to take a lot of resources to get to the bottom of what happened."
Authorities cannot speculate on the cause of the crash, but Frederick Avenue will remain closed for the investigation for a significant amount of time.
"Obviously, folks who are on a bus this time of the morning are working folks, and they're on their way to make a living," Davis said. "They're on their way to their jobs, and they're on their way to support their families, so our hearts and prayers go out to them, to their families, to their coworkers as well."
School Bus in Crash Was From Contracted Company
School officials said the school bus involved in the fatal crash was contracted from AA Affordable Transportation, a company based in Baltimore.
The bus provided service to 18 elementary school students, but beginning Wednesday the students will be transported by a bus owned by the city school system, school officials said in a statement Tuesday.
Officials said these students receive curb-to-curb transportation from their homes to school. The service is provided to students with special needs, students who are homeless and students who receive specialized services such as English for Speakers of Other Languages.
Gov. Hogan: 'We Are Prepared to Offer Any State Assistance Necessary'
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan posted a message expressing his condolences on Facebook.
"The First Lady and I are deeply saddened to hear of the horrific crash this morning in Southwest Baltimore involving a school bus and an MTA bus," Hogan wrote. "Our deepest condolences go out to the victims and their families in the wake of this tragedy. We will continue to pray for those who were injured, including the individuals in Shock Trauma, as well as the first responders who worked swiftly and continue to care for the injured."
His statement continued: "Our administration gives our full support to the Baltimore City Police Department as they investigate, and we are prepared to offer any state assistance necessary."