Several Arizona inmates were praised for helping wounded victims of a highway bus crash.
A Department of Corrections bus carrying about 50 inmates slammed into an overturned semitrailer on an interstate in August 2015, leaving many injured. The bus driver, a corrections officer and about 20 inmates were rushed to the hospital. Several needed to be airlifted, The Huffington Post reported.
The remaining uninjured inmates reportedly tended to those who were hurt rather than attempt to escape, reports said. About 30 prisoners directed traffic, laid down flares and assisted the wounded.
Sgt. Josh Wilhelm of the Department of Public Safety said he anticipated a different reaction from the prisoners at the scene.
“Everybody’s seen the movies and I thought, ‘Oh no, I’m gonna have inmates scatter and we’re gonna have 50 fugitives,’” Wilhelm told The Associated Press. “That was not the case.”
All of the inmates on the scene were minimum-security offenders serving less than five-year sentences. According to Bill Lamoreaux, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Corrections, the inmates were part of a work crew returning to Lewis Prison in Buckeye, Arizona, from an assignment in Casa Grande, Arizona.
Every inmate was accounted for and all uninjured prisoners returned to the DOC’s Lewis facility, Lamoreaux confirmed.
Lamoreaux told The Huffington Post it was “great to hear” of the inmates’ kindness.
“It’s always heartwarming to see anyone jump in when assistance is needed,” he said. “I think the programming, the work, the education, all the different opportunities we provide -- hopefully it sinks in.”
Later that afternoon, it was still unclear what caused the semitrailer to roll over or what led to the bus to crash.
The interstate was closed for several hours following the accident, as the herbicides being carried by the truck were spilled. Officials said the material spilled was not considered hazardous.