4 killed in football team bus crash on NC highway

HAMLET, N.C. (WNCN) – The four people killed in a charter bus crash carrying a South Carolina football squad on U.S. Route 74/Interstate 74 in Richmond County on Saturday have been identified.

The driver and three passengers on the bus that were killed in the crash that closed the area around U.S. 74/I-74 for hours ranged in age from 10 to 43, Lt. Jeff Gordon with N.C. State Highway Patrol said.

The four killed were:

Brian Andre Kirkpatrick, 43, of Chester, South Carolina (driver)
Devonte Gibson, 21, of Rock Hill, South Carolina (passenger)
Teto Hamilton, 19, of Pahokee, Florida (passenger)
Darice Hicks, 10, of Rock Hill, South Carolina (passenger)

The crash happened around 2:35 p.m. on the U.S. 74 bypass near I-74/exit 316, Gordon said.

In addition to the four killed, 42 people were taken to various hospitals.

Ellen Cooper with FirstHealth Hospital told the Richmond County Daily Journal that eight patients from the bus wreck were in serious condition at FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital. Ten were originally taken to FirstHealth Richmond, but two were airlifted to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, officials told CBS North Carolina. Two patients from another hospital were flown to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, WBTV reported.

The crash happened when the left side front tire on the bus failed in a blowout, N.C. State Highway Patrol officials told CBS North Carolina.

The charter bus was carrying a group of college students from the Rock Hill, South Carolina area who were playing for a football team called Ramah Jucco Academy, according to Jim Terry, who works recruiting players for an opposing team called University of God’s Chosen in Raeford.

University of God’s Chosen was set to play the Ramah team on Saturday afternoon at Lake Rim Park in Fayetteville, Terry told CBS North Carolina. Both teams are made up of junior or community college students who wish to play football, but don’t attend a school that has a team.

Many of the players on the Ramah team were from Clinton College in Rock Hill, according to Gordon.

The coach at University of God’s Chosen, Demetrius Hollingsworth, posted about the crash Saturday night on Facebook.

Gordon also said that family members and fans were in vehicles behind the wreck and saw the bus crash into an overpass column.

“I’ve been doing this job for 23 years now. I’ve seen my share, and this is one of the worst, especially when you have a group of students, young people just starting their lives, going to a football game,” Gordon said.

According to WBTV, as of 8:30 p.m. Saturday, 22 people had been discharged from the hospital.

Tyreak Thompson is one of the football players released from the hospital. He said all of his teammates attend Clinton College in Rock Hill.

The last thing Thompson remembers was the bus hitting the median railing.

“I was half-asleep, then when I opened my eyes, we had hit the rail, and that’s all I remember,” Thompson told WBTV.

Thompson was able to walk away form the crash without any injuries, but he said he is still shaken up.

“I’m still a little traumatized about it. It’s hard, and I’m fine. I feel sad for all of the other players and hope they’ll be OK,” Thompson said.

Thompson said he’s thinking of the people on the bus who died.

“Some of us made it, some of us didn’t. Hopefully we get through it. Thank God some of us see another day, and I just pray for the families going through hard times right now,” Thompson said.

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