On November 14, 2004, about 9:30 a.m., eastern standard time, a 44-year-old bus driver departed the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, operating a 2000 Prevost, 58-passenger motorcoach for an approximately 60-mile trip to Mount Vernon, Virginia. Vehicle occupants were the bus driver, an adult chaperone, and 27 high school students. This vehicle was the second one of a two-bus team traveling to Mount Vernon. The motor carrier, Eyre Bus Service, Inc., (Eyre) operates this route frequently, and the accident bus driver had driven this route on one previous occasion 9 days earlier (November 5, 2004).
About 10:40 a.m., the bus was traveling southbound in the right lane of the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Alexandria, Virginia, at an electronic control module– recorded speed of approximately 46 mph. As the bus approached the Alexandria Avenue bridge, the bus driver passed warning signs indicating that the bridge had a 10-foot, 2-inch clearance in the right lane. Nonetheless, the driver remained in the right lane and drove the 12-foot-high bus under the bridge, colliding with the underside and side of the overpass. At the time of the accident, the 13-foot, 4-inch-high left lane was available to the bus, and the lead Eyre bus was in the left lane ahead of the accident bus. The accident bus came to a final stop in the right lane about 470 feet beyond the bridge. Witnesses and the bus driver himself reported that the bus driver was talking on a hands-free cellular telephone at the time of the accident.
Of the 27 student passengers, 10 received minor injuries and 1 sustained serious injuries. The bus driver and chaperone were uninjured. The bus’s roof was destroyed.