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Students and Ackerman residents continue to mourn bus tragedy

On Tuesday, Feb. 8, a school bus collided with an 18-wheeler, causing the death of two high school teachers from Ackerman High School and the truck driver. 

University of Mississippi junior Jessi Foust, a graduate from Ackerman High, said she knew all of the people who were killed and injured in the event. She said that Coach Steven Moss, 37, who was killed in the accident, taught one of her history classes and attended the same church, Ackerman Baptist. 

Foust said her parents were informed about the accident Tuesday afternoon. 

“It’s just a really sad situation that has affected everyone in the community,” she said. 

Pastor Danny Irvin of Ackerman Baptist said Moss was an active member of the church. 

The church, along with other churches in the area, held special prayer services Tuesday night. 

“No one got up and spoke last night, it was just everyone coming together and hugging, crying and praying,” Irvin said. 

Irvin was not at the prayer service but was instead with the Moss family.

Phyllis Graham, a special education teacher who was killed in the accident, only went on the trip because one of her students attended, Irvin said.  

Wednesday morning the school held an assembly and invited all the ministers to come down and speak to the kids who needed help.

“Everyone will be fine,” Irvin said. “Coach Moss was a good Christian man and we know he will be in heaven. There will be a sense of loss, but everyone in this community will come through just fine.”

Irvin said he noticed how extensive the damage to the bus was and how lucky it was that none of the students were injured. 

“God definitely had his hand over the young people on that bus protecting them,” he said. “It just shows that God is in control.”

The accident happened at approximately 2 p.m., on MS 8 approximately 1 mile West of Calhoun City in Calhoun County, said Brian Mobley, Public Affairs Officer for the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol. 

Mobley said upon arriving it appeared Gary Bailey, 54, of Mantachie, was traveling east on MS 8, operating a 2010 International, semi-tractor/trailer, when apparently his vehicle and a 2000 International school bus, operated by Shane Burton, 40, of Ackerman, side-swiped each other. 

The 18-wheeler and a second school bus, operated by Moss, of Ackerman, then collided head-on.

The buses were carrying seniors from Ackerman High School and were returning from a campus visit at the University of Mississippi.

Mobley said that Burton, the driver of the first school bus, received minor injuries in the accident.

There were approximately 57 students traveling between the two buses, Mobley said.

Approximately 17 of the students were carried to local hospitals by ambulance, private vehicles and one student was air-lifted to North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, Mobley said. “None of the students appear to have received life-threaten injuries in the crash,” he said. 

Mobley said traffic came to a halt for approximately 6 hours on MS 8 as crews worked until the crash scene could be cleared.

The accident remains under investigation by the Mississippi Highway Patrol.