EAST RIDGE, TN (WRCB) - More than a dozen college students were taken to local hospitals after a car crossed lanes hitting their charter bus.
The crash happened Sunday afternoon on Interstate 75 directly in front of the Tennessee Welcome Center.
East Ridge authorities say 23-year-old Esdras Lopez Chaves lost control of his white Mustang and crashed into the bus.
An investigation revealed Chaves was entering the interstate from Ringgold Road when the crash happened.
Chaves' vehicle left the roadway and ran into a wooded area.
The impact of the crash pinned the door of the bus shut. First responders had to use extraction tools to gain access to the people on board.
A total of 16 passengers on the bus were injured.
"There were four patients inside the bus that had to be boarded and transported," said Commander Michael Williams, "there were also numerous other patients that had to be transported, what we call walking wounded."
All of the injuries were reported as being non-life threatening.
Firefighters implemented a mass casualty protocol and called for extra ambulances. A total of six ambulances responded. The patients were transported to four area hospitals.
The bus was moved to the welcome center, where the remaining passengers of the bus waited for another charter bus.
The charter bus was operated by USA Transport was carrying a group of students from Lincoln University in Jefferson City Missouri.
Passengers told Eyewitness News that the majority of the students on board were sleeping when the crash happened.
"I heard when the car slammed into the bus," said passenger Tiyana Walters, "and then the bus just went out of control from there."
East Ridge Police arrested Chaves. He faces multiple charges for not having a driver's license or insurance. He is also facing charges for not maintaining his lane. Other charges are pending.