In a statement Saturday, UVa-Wise spokesperson Kathy Still said the team was traveling through Marietta, Ohio, to a game in Wheeling, W. Va., when a rear tire reportedly blew. The bus caught fire, she said, and team members, coaches and the bus driver were able to exit the vehicle safely.
Still said that, despite initial reports, the team was able to recover some of its equipment from the bus.
Local police got a high school bus to take the team members to a hotel, where they spent Friday night before returning to campus via charter bus Saturday.
College Chancellor Donna P. Henry on Saturday issued a statement to students and staff.
“I am meeting with the team and coaches when they return to campus [Saturday],” Henry said. “I plan to listen carefully to their concerns and outline the following plan to address transportation safety.
“As of [Saturday], UVa-Wise will ground its remaining buses when they return to campus,” Henry said. “Out of an abundance of caution, we will have an independent shop examine each bus to ensure the vehicles are safe. We will arrange alternative transportation until we receive a clear report from the independent shop.”
Henry said that, while vehicles break down, the college has seen a recent “rash of incidents.”
“We want to be absolutely sure of the mechanical safety of our buses before we put the vehicles on the road again,” Henry said. “We value all of our students and our Highland Cavalier family, and the administration and I are taking these steps to ensure our buses remain in solid mechanical order.”
Henry said that students, their parents, faculty and staff would be informed as the college works on the bus situation.
“We are taking the transportation issues seriously,” Henry said, “and we will work hard to resolve any issues that may arise.”
The softball team’s games against Wheeling Jesuit University Saturday and West Liberty University in West Liberty, W. Va., have been postponed.