Charter Bus Crash Prompts Discussion About Widening Highway 17

By: Heather King/Christine Kennedy
By: Heather King/Christine Kennedy

All the Marines from last week's massive bus accident in Jones County have been released from the hospital.

The driver of one bus is currently in fair condition.

The accident is once again focusing on the need to four lane Highway 17 in Jones County.

The county manager says its been talked about for thirty years, and maybe now, something will be done about it.

Frankie Howard says the highway was originally built to withstand 7,000 cars a day, now they see over 11 thousand cars daily.

Construction is set to begin on the "funded" portions of highway 17 Bypass for Jones County in about 5 years.

There are still portions of the highway, that haven't been funded.

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The charter bus driver who was critically injured when his bus went into a ditch in Jones County March 5 is now listed in fair condition. Officials at Pitt County Memorial Hospital said John Tipton's condition has improved from the critical status.

Tipton was driving the last of three charter buses carrying Camp Lejeune Marines Thursday, when it went into a ditch. Troopers say the first two buses in line stopped for a car trying to make a left turn, but Tipton's bus did not.

The Highway Patrol charged Tipton with failure to reduce speed.



Only one marine remains hospitalized following Thursday's crash involving three buses in Jones County.

Camp Lejeune officials say the Marine being treated at their Naval Hospital has been released.

Another is still hospitalized at New Hanover Regional.

The bus driver injured, who's been identified as John Tipton, was in critical condition at last check.

Highway Patrol charged Tipton with failure to reduce speed.

State troopers say the buses were following a line a vehicles when one vehicle stopped to make a left turn.

They say the first two buses stopped, but the third, driven by Tipton, did not.

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witn audio fileListen to the 911 call



JONES COUNTY, NC -- Highway Patrol has now identified and charged the bus driver involved in Thursday mornings crash involving three charter buses full of Marines in Jones County.

Troopers say the driver is John Tipton. No age or hometown is immediately available. Tipton is charged with failure to reduce speed. At last check he was in critical condition.

Just two of the thirteen Marines injured remain in the hospital.

A Camp Lejeune spokesman says both Marines, one being treated at their Naval Hospital and the other at New Hanover Regional, are in stable condition.

Fifty-nine Marines and one sailor were on the three charter buses when they crashed just before 8:00 a.m. The chain reaction accident happened on Highway 17 in Jones County, just north of Maysville.

State troopers say the buses were following a line a vehicles when one vehicle stopped to make a left turn. Troopers say the first two buses stopped, but the third did not.

Highway 17 was closed for more than three hours as rescuers removed the injured and the buses were removed from the highway.

The Marines were on their way to Norfolk to embark aboard the ships of the Bataan Strike Group for the MEU’s final exercise prior to deployment this spring.

The Marine Corps says Marines who were uninjured in the accident continued to Norfolk aboard replacement buses.


Previous Story

Three charter buses full of Camp Lejeune Marines crashed this morning in Jones County and state troopers say charges are pending against one of the bus drivers.

That driver was airlifted to PCMH in critical condition. Fifty-nine Marines and one sailor were onboard the buses. Thirteen Marines were injured and taken to the Naval Hospital at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville for treatment. None of the injuries were life-threatening.

Scroll down to view image gallery of accident

The Jones County Sheriff's Office says the crash happened on Highway 17 between Pollocksville and Maysville just before 8 a.m. Traffic on Highway 17 from Jacksonville was backed up for miles, but as of 11:10 a.m. all lanes were open again.

The Highway Patrol says the accident involved three buses and two sport utility vehicles. Troopers say several vehicles were stopped for another vehicle attempting to make a left turn off Highway 17. The first two buses stopped, but the third did not and started the chain reaction accident.

The buses are from All Together Tours, which is based in the Halifax County town of Enfield.

Capt. Carpenter with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit at Camp Lejeune says the Marines were headed to Norfolk today ahead of certification exercises scheduled to begin on March 10, in advance of deployment overseas this spring. Carpenter says the Marines would be training with Bataan Strike Group.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by E'Nashia Thomas Location: Grandchild of Mr.Yates on Feb 22, 2011 at 07:34 AM
    thanks for all the prayers and support!!!
  • by ace Location: plymouth on Mar 11, 2009 at 05:38 AM
    You can't fix stupid. What? he ran off the road by not having control of his vehicle. Guess we need roads with 100 ft right of ways for deacceleration purposes.
  • by outsiderlookingin Location: nc on Mar 11, 2009 at 02:04 AM
    If driving conditions are good, and the vehicle in good repair, operator error cannot be resolved by highway engineering.
  • by mjb Location: windsor on Mar 6, 2009 at 06:02 PM
    DUH, you're right. My husband was turning left from a road with a double yellow line. He got whacked by someone obvoiusly going more than the posted 45mph. My husband never saw him in his mirrors and yes, he did have his turn signal on. Guess who's vehicle was totaled and who got the ticket. My husband. He was told by the trooper that it is his responsibility to make sure he can turn safely. He never saw this guy coming, and didn't know what had hit him. I'm just thankful he's alive to tell the story.
  • by DUH! HUH! Location: lenoir county on Mar 6, 2009 at 09:10 AM
    Believe it or not a person making a left turn has the duty to make sure that it is safe to turn and that means to look in the rear view mirror as well as the side mirror.I know a guy who was working with the NCDOT gave a turn signal 400 yards from his left turn. a vehicle went to pass anyway a wreck happened and the state dump truck driver making the left turn got the ticket.An unsafe moving violation.I was behind the vehicle doing the passing and I did work for the NCDOT at the time and had to make a statement about the wreck.If you don't believe it call or talk to an N.C highway patrolman and ask him about that law.I am retired.
  • by Alison Location: Havelock on Mar 6, 2009 at 08:56 AM
    To Anne: It is very understandable about your concerns. With what is going on in today's world anything could be a terrorist attack. My thoughts and prayers go out to the marines and their families who were involved in this accident.
  • by Not WITN on Mar 6, 2009 at 06:23 AM
    WITN did not report it took responders 20 minutes to respond. A check of local media websites shows a WCTI12.com report stating "Emergency responders arrived within 20 minutes." WITN reported at 6 p.m. Thursday on the efficient response of emergency crews and how they kept a tough situation from getting worse.
  • by Justin Location: Maysville on Mar 6, 2009 at 05:39 AM
    I am the captain of maysville fire dept. I would like to comment on the news media saying that it took 20 mins. for help to arrive on scene. Maysville was dispatched at 7:50am, we had a truck enroute at 7:51, and on scene at 7:52.
  • by John G. Ulbany on Mar 5, 2009 at 09:21 PM
    Charging the injured guy...makes a lot of sense. I think he got his punishment.
  • by Marine Mom Location: Valley stream NY on Mar 5, 2009 at 08:46 PM
    My prayers go out to the Marines that are injuried.My son is station at Camp Lejeune,but has been deployed to Afghanistan.To all the Marines, stay safe and thank you for serving our country
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