Three people were killed and 24 others injured in a multiple-vehicle crash early Sunday morning in New Mexico, officials said.
A car rear-ended a pickup truck around 2 a.m., sparking a "chain of crashes" on Interstate 25 near Bernalillo, just north of Albuquerque, Lt. Keith Elder, of the Sandoval County Sheriff's Office, told BuzzFeed News Sunday.
Emergency responders treated 38 people at the scene, with injuries ranging from broken bones, cuts, and bruises to head and internal injuries, he said.
The driver of the car was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene, leaving the vehicle in the lane without any lights on and invisible to oncoming traffic. After being hit, the truck swerved across the barrier and was able to stop in a median along the northbound lane.
A commercial passenger bus carrying 35 people was traveling along the road when it came upon the damaged car and lifeless driver. The operator swerved to avoid the accident and lost control, sending the bus rolling onto its right side across the barrier cable, the sheriff's office said in a press release.
At the same time, an approaching semitruck turned swiftly to try to miss the bus but sideswiped it and also lost control.
The highway was closed for about 11 hours because of the deadly crash, officials said.
Firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life to free passengers from the overturned limousine bus, the Rio Rancho Fire Department said on Twitter.
Authorities are still investigating the cause of the crash, including whether passengers in the charter bus, as well as the drivers of the other vehicles, were wearing seatbelts, Elder said.
Of the 24 people injured in the accident, six people have since been released from area hospitals, and four others remain in critical condition. The names of the victims have not yet been released.
"It was a tragic series of events," Elder said. "We are, of course, investigating whether the initial cause was alcohol-related and if any of the other drivers were under the influence."
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