School bus flips in attack by Tenn. teens 26 junior high athletes, coach are hurt in crash


MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A school bus carrying 26 junior high basketball players and their coach flipped over onto its side Wednesday night after swerving to avoid a group of teen-agers who were pelting it with bricks and rocks.

The accident occurred shortly before 6: 30 p.m. about a mile from Lanier Junior High, at the southern tip of the city near the Mississippi state line.

Both the girls' and boys' basketball teams from Mitchell School had just lost their games with Lanier and were headed home. The Mitchell girls' coach was driving the bus.

All of the students, ages 12 to 15, were taken to area hospitals with noncritical injuries, many complaining of neck and back pain.

They were treated and released, except for one boy with a fractured collarbone. The coach was also treated and released.

Police reports said the bus was on a somewhat busy street driving past an apartment complex, when 10 to 15 teen-agers ran out in front of the bus and began throwing bricks and rocks, shattering windows on the right side of the vehicle.

Lt. Richard True of the Memphis Police Department said the driver jerked the steering wheel trying to get away, and the bus turned and slid onto its left side.

"It all happened very quickly," said True. "The driver said he didn't recognize the rock throwers, but he thinks they were all males."

Yesterday, officials were not able to say much more about who did it or what their motivation was.

After the bus turned over, the teen attackers reportedly ran away.

One suspect was taken into custody soon after the incident, but police would not comment on his identity or what information he has provided.

Before the game, as the teams were traveling the five miles to Lanier from Mitchell, some rocks were thrown at the bus. At that time, no one was particularly alarmed.

But most everyone was baffled by the more violent attack after the game.

Janice Chatmon, principal of Mitchell School, said: "I think there have been incidents when kids from a losing team's school threw a few rocks at a winning team's bus. Kids will do that. But it has certainly never been of this magnitude."

Pub Date: 12/13/96

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