Men’s Basketball team involved in crash traveling to away game


Rebekah Nelson

Courtesy of Tyson Wilkins

Story by Maya Hodison, Writer

While traveling to Lamoni, Iowa for an away game on Feb. 6, the Baker University Men’s Basketball team was involved in a bus crash. The players and coaches loaded the charter bus on that snowy morning to head to the 4 p.m. game at Graceland University. On the way, they faced dangerous road conditions. It was actively snowing and it appeared as though plow trucks had not yet gotten a chance to clear the highway well.

According to Head Coach Sean Dooley, if there is any threat of inclement weather in the forecast on game days, the Baker administration team and the bus company communicate with each other, as well as with the opponents’ administration, and sometimes, the conference commissioner.

With the men’s basketball season being played during the winter months, the team is often traveling in the midst of cold temperatures and precipitation. The weather forecast for that day did not seem to be any different from the previous weather they had endured, making the journey a feasible option. Additionally, having a professional bus driver provided extra comfort and security.

But that Feb. 6 day proved to be unexpected. As they were traveling on the I-35 highway, the team found themselves driving behind a semi-truck. Suddenly, the semi-truck driver hit the brakes and caused the driver of the team bus to subsequently slam on his brakes and swerve left to avoid a collision. During this encounter, snow flew onto the windshield of the bus and impaired the driver’s vision. At this point, he could not stop.

The bus then hit another vehicle on the shoulder and swerved all the way to the right lane going about 65 miles per hour. Fortunately, the vehicle hit on the shoulder was an abandoned car with no people inside.

According to Junior Akeen Woods, he and his teammates grasped onto their seats and braced themselves to prepare for the worst. After approximately eight seconds of lost control, the bus ended up on an embankment on an exit ramp. It finally stopped upward on that hill.

The nature of the crash was intense, and everyone was shocked and frightened. Once it was safe to get up, the coaches checked on the players to make sure everyone was alright. Teammates supported each other and shared their sentiments.

“I think there were a bunch of different feelings for all of us, but most importantly we were just thankful nobody got hurt,” Dooley said.

Once the initial shock subsided, players called their family members. Senior Colby Bullock provided wisdom about always cherishing loved ones.

“Everyone felt grateful and blessed to be alive,” Bullock said. “It was a reminder that life is precious, God is good and you should not need an excuse to call your mom.”

Due to the crash, the team decided to head back to campus and cancel the game against Graceland. They were upset about not being able to compete that day, but were able to postpone the contest until a later date.

Since there was no damage to the interior of the bus and the bus was able to stay on and warm, the coaches and players remained in their seats and waited. The bus company called in another charter bus to pick them up from the scene and transport them back to Baldwin City.

On the ride home, the players were still on high alert and discussed how lucky they were to be safe.

“The situation reminded me to count my blessings and thank God everyday for waking me up because tomorrow is never guaranteed,” Woods said.