COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A Columbus man who was a passenger on the bus that crashed on the Pennsylvania Turnpike early Sunday morning is thankful to be alive.
“It just wasn’t my time,” said Lamar Brady, of Columbus, via phone Sunday afternoon.
Brady was one of an estimated 56 passengers on a Z&D Tours bus when it rolled on its side. Z&D Tours is based out of Rockaway, N.J.
According to Pennsylvania State Police, the bus was traveling downhill on a curve, careened up an embankment and rolled over. Two tractor-trailers then struck the bus. A third tractor-trailer then crashed into those trucks. A passenger car was also involved in the pile-up. Photos from the scene show a mangled collision of multiple vehicles including a smashed FedEx truck that left packages sprawled along the highway.
Brady, who said he was awake at the time of the crash, said the bus driver decided to try to pass the FedEx truck, accelerating the bus to an estimated 70 miles per hour.
“(The bus) tried to get back in the same lane and then he swerved right, swerved left, clipped the median, swerved right again, and slammed into the grass area to the hill on the side,” Brady said.
NBC4 has repeatedly reached out to Z&D Tours for comment but as of press time, the company is not answering the phone nor replying to written inquiries.
Investigators have not given a cause for the crash.
US Department of Transporation records show Z&D Tours has not had any crashes within the last 24 months.
Brady said the bus started tumbling at that point.
“I tried my best to, like, brace myself and keep my vital areas covered, essentially,” he said.
While banged up and bruised, Brady said he didn’t suffer any serious injuries.
When he was able to get off the bus and put his feet on the ground, he pulled out his cell phone in an attempt to help victims on the bus and in the other vehicles.
“I used my flashlight to see if any of the kids on the bus had any head injuries,” he said.
Brady recorded his first moments outside the bus, showing him help other victims, then moving further back once he smelled gasoline.
“I tried to stay as uplifting and bubbly as possible for the people around me, to try to put smiles on peoples’ faces when there weren’t any,” he said.
Brady said at approximately 4 p.m. Sunday that he was on another bus making his way back to Columbus. He said that bus, after stopping in Columbus, would continue its journey onto Cincinnati.
“This wasn’t necessarily a second chance, it was just a near-death experience that says this isn’t your time,” he said. “You need to achieve your goals while you have the time.”