Two dead, 41 hurt in bus crash involving Louisiana flood-relief volunteers

Two people died and 41 more were injured when a bus carrying volunteers to help with Louisiana flood relief spun out of control near New Orleans, local media reported Sunday.

St. John the Baptist Fire District Chief Spencer Chauvin died Sunday morning after the charter bus slammed into him as he tried to help victims of another accident, television station WWLTV of New Orleans reported, citing police and parish President Natalie Robottom.

Two other firefighters were injured in the crash and a second person, who has not yet been identified, also died, the television station said.

“It is a sad day in the St. John the Baptist Parish as we lost one of the bravest and most dedicated firefighters that I know,” Robottom said in a statement according to the television station.

The bus driver, identified as 37-year-old Denis Amaya Rodriguez, was in custody on suspicion of multiple violations, NBC News reported, citing Louisiana State Police spokeswoman Melissa Matey. Rodriguez, who is from Honduras, was in the U.S. illegally, the network reported, citing Matey.

Few details were available Sunday afternoon about the cause of the accident. Matey told NBC that 41 people on the bus suffered minor injuries.

A local ambulance company said on Twitter it had transported 38 people to hospitals from the scene of the accident on Interstate 10 near the community of Laplace, about 25 miles (40 km) northwest of New Orleans. The company, Acadian Ambulance Service, said that a second ambulance company had transported three additional people to hospitals.

The bus, filled with volunteers to help residents recover from massive flooding in Louisiana earlier this month, was traveling westbound on Interstate 10 when it crashed into the fire truck and another vehicle, the television station and other media reported.

As many as 60,600 homes were reported damaged or destroyed in flooding that ravaged 20 parishes, or counties, in the southern part of Louisiana. About 3,000 residents were still living in shelters as of Aug. 22, officials said last week.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California; Editing by Alan Crosby)

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