— -- At least six people were killed after a school bus and a commuter bus collided in Baltimore this morning, police said.
There were no children on the school bus.
Police say the crash occurred around 7 a.m. when a school bus struck the rear of a Ford Mustang, then a pillar and veered into oncoming traffic, striking a Maryland Transit Administration bus. As of Tuesday afternoon authorities said they do not know what caused the crash.
The entire driver's side of the MTA bus was torn off, Baltimore Police Spokesman T.J. Smith said at a news conference this morning.
"It looks like a bomb exploded," Smith added.
Police said there were at least five fatalities on the MTA bus. The driver of the school bus was also killed. There were 13 people on the MTA bus and two on the school bus, Smith said. The aide that was also on the school bus sustained minor injuries. Police hope to interview her to learn more details about what led to the crash.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were on the scene Tuesday to help local authorities with the investigation. Crews have also recovered a recorder from one of the buses that they believe could contain video and data that could show what happened leading up to the crash, though they did not specify which bus the recorder came from.
Five patients were being treated at the University of Maryland Medical Center shock trauma center, Chief of Trauma Deborah Stein said in a press conference. All the patients being treated at the shock trauma center are adults, one man and four women. All their injuries were described as consistent with a motor vehicle crash. One of the patients was critically injured, another described as in serious condition and the other three described as in stable condition.
Stein said the trauma center was responding with all hands on deck and that everyone finishing a night shift stayed to stand by in case more help was needed.
Smith said the school bus driver worked for the contracted company AA Affordable Transportation, and was on his way to pick up his first student a couple blocks away from the site of the crash.
Niles Ford of the Baltimore Fire Department described a challenging scene for emergency responders. He said rescue workers had to cut out seats of at least one of the buses to gain access to the front.
As of 9:50 a.m. this morning, emergency personnel were still working their way through the MTA bus, Ford said.
It was unclear how fast the vehicles were traveling but the medical examiner will perform an autopsy on the driver to determine if a medical emergency could have contributed to the crash. Police are also asking anyone who may have seen the crash or recorded surveillance video to call the crash team and share any information that could help investigators.
Gov. Larry Hogan released a statement after the crash.
"The First Lady and I are deeply saddened to hear of the horrific crash this morning in Southwest Baltimore involving a school bus and an MTA commuter bus," the statement read.
"Our deepest condolences go out to the victims and their families in the wake of this tragedy. We will continue to pray for those who were injured, including the individuals in Shock Trauma, as well as the first responders who worked swiftly and continue to care for the injured. Our administration gives our full support to the Baltimore City Police Department as they investigate, and we are prepared to offer any state assistance necessary."
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake also issued a statement offering her condolences to the victims and families.
"I am thankful for the expedient response of our emergency staff who are doing all they can to assist those in critical need and render aid where necessary, as well as those who have offered resources or support," Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. "Please continue to pray for the many lives impacted by today's events."