Hampton University athlete from Raleigh recalls fiery bus incident

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In the late evening hours Saturday, the Hampton University Track and Field team headed northbound on I-95 en route to their Virginia campus.

In the late evening hours Saturday, the Hampton University Track and Field team headed northbound on I-95 en route to their Virginia campus.

The Pirates had just wrapped up a track meet in South Carolina.

During their trip, several student-athletes on board began to smell smoke. "I'm shaken up," said student-athlete and Southeast Raleigh High School graduate Khalil Gary. "A lot of people are shaken up."

Over 40 people, which included athletes, coaches, staff, and the driver, were on the bus in Wilson County when the incident happened. Gary told ABC11 a decision was made to evacuate the charter bus when the rear of the vehicle began to fill with smoke. "Within 10 minutes the bus was completely engulfed in flames," Gary said. "I had my periods (of shock) just like everybody else did. We broke down because we were watching everything burn down on the bus."

After waiting for another bus to arrive, Gary called his mother, who lives in Raleigh, and she eventually drove to Wilson County to get her son. "I broke down, I was balling," Gary recalled when he first saw his mother that evening. "I was just happy she was there."

Team members lost clothing, cell phones, laptops, equipment, and other items of value. "It's all material things," said Gary. "Clothes and stuff can be replaced. So, you know, happy to just be here."

The team was taken to a local high school and assisted by the Red Cross.

Hours later, the team arrived safely at the Hampton, Virginia campus.

The school's Director of Sports Information, Jim Heath, told ABC11, "On Saturday night an engine fire caused the independent charter bus containing the Hampton University Track and Field team to stop near Wilson. N.C. The team was safely evacuated with zero student-athletes harmed and the fire was extinguished. They returned home safely in the early hours Sunday morning."

Beyond that, Heath declined to give any additional comment.

The Pirates have another track meet scheduled for this Friday at Virginia Military Institute. Gary said he and others are nervous about the drive to VMI and are hesitant about driving. "A lot of people are shaken and stuff and people are trying to get back to a sense of normalcy," Gary said.
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