BETHESDA, Md. - A commuter bus plunged off a highway Wednesday outside the nation's capital, killing one person and injuring at least a dozen, including children, authorities said.
Parents and children were aboard the bus that fell 45 feet off a skyramp of the Capital Beltway and landed below along Interstate 270 in Bethesda, said Maryland State Police Sgt. Michael Brennan.
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The crash occurred about 4 p.m. as the afternoon rush hour started to build, creating a massive traffic jam northwest of Washington.
Television footage showed crews in yellow jackets and helmets walking up ladders and crawling into the holed-out windows of the bus. Rescuers spread out tarp on the roadway where a woman lay with a brace around her neck and held a compress to her head. Police dogs were searching the area in case people were ejected from the bus.
Some children also sat in the triage areas surrounded by backpacks, including a girl with a white bandage wrapped around her head. A firefighter could be seen carrying a child in his arms, while others were taken away on stretchers.
Authorities had to extricate several people from the "limousine-style tour bus," said Montgomery County fire department Assistant Chief Scott Graham.
Graham said 12 people were taken to area hospitals. Two had critical, life-threatening injuries, two others were critically hurt but should survive and the rest had minor injuries.
Ronna Borenstein, a spokeswoman for Suburban Hospital, said 11 patients were brought there. She said two adults were in fair condition and that five adults and four children were in good condition.
The severely damaged white bus, with green lettering reading "Wolf's," was sitting upright just over a jersey wall from a lane of I-270.
A person who answered the telephone at Pennsylvania-based Wolf's Bus Lines said she had no information about the crash.
School officials said the children were not Montgomery County public school students.
County Council President Nancy Floreen said she was shocked to learn of what she called probably the worst accident in her 10 years in local public office.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of those people, those children," Floreen said.