Rats injured in bus crash UPDATE
The team bus carrying players, coaches and staff members of the Albany River Rats flipped onto its side early this morning on the way home from Wednesday night's game in Lowell, Mass.
Three players were seriously injured in the crash, head coach-GM Jeff Daniels said. At this hour, the team is still at the Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Mass.
"It was extremely scary," Daniels said. "We're very fortunate to escape the way we did, injury-wise. Some guys are banged up pretty good and they're going to miss an extended period of time, but it's nothing career-threatening."
Daniels wanted to wait until players and staff had a chance to speak with family before releasing the names of those seriously hurt.
"The families have to be taken care of first," he said. "It's not as serious as it could have been."
Massachusetts state police said that the bus was traveling westbound on I-90 in snowy conditions when the crash happened at 3:25 this morning in the town of Becket, Mass., about 56 miles from Albany. The Yankee Trails coach struck a guardrail and rolled over onto its left side and into both lanes of traffic.
Police said there were 29 people on board the bus; five were taken to Berkshire Medical Center in an ambulance, three with what appeared to be serious injuries. Another two complained of neck pain. The remaining 24 people were driven to BMC in a separate bus.
Albany broadcaster and director of media relations Owen Newkirk said he suffered a mild concussion in the accident. He was asleep at the time.
"I woke up when I heard someone, I'm guessing it was the driver, yelling to hang on," Newkirk said. "I woke up and sat up, and couldn't really see anything. I just grabbed the seat, I guess. The bus flipped on its left side. I'm on the right, so I ended up on top. I just remember hanging on and thinking, 'This is gonna hurt.' I closed my eyes, and the rest is just a blur."
Newkirk said the team had already been ldelayed about 2 1/2 hours because its original bus had broken down near Worcester, Mass. with engine trouble, and a second bus had to be sent to pick up the team.
"I was sleeping and woke just as it was all happening," Daniels said. "We just kind of lost control and couldn't recover. We started spinning and flipping and rolled over on our side on top of the guardrail, and we were just missed by a couple of semi trucks. Eventually, the guys kind of crawled out and got to a safe area, and everyone was accounted for."
Daniels said that everyone was able to get off the bus on their own.
"Everyone had to be checked by the doctor just to get cleared," Daniels said. "They've been extremely caring and outgoing toward the team."