Felony charges have been added against the driver of a charter bus that overturned on a Georgia interstate, injuring at least a dozen passengers heading to the Masters golf tournament. According to Maj. Steve Morris of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, 61-year-old Steven Hoppenbrouwer is charged with seven counts of serious injury by vehicle; in addition to charges of driving under the influence and failure to maintain lane.
The bus left Atlanta early Thursday morning, carrying 18 passengers, and crashed in Columbia County, just outside of Augusta around 8:45 a.m., as fans were making their way in for the tournament’s first round. Hoppenbrouwer ran off the right side of the road and overturned the bus in the medium after overcorrecting.
Sixteen passengers were hospitalized for broken bones and head injuries—only one was in critical condition.
Kip Plowman, a passenger on the bus, said “We careened off the side of the road. We spun around one and a half times ’cause the bus was facing backwards. Then it had flipped on its side. We probably skidded for a good hundred yards.”
The accident blocked lanes in both directions about 15 miles from the golf tournament, along a major route from Atlanta. It took authorities several hours to clear the crash, and drivers were advised to look for alternate routes.
Hoppenbrouwer left jail after posting a $20,400 bond the next day and waived his first appearance hearing in Columbia County court.
The charter bus is owned by Suwanee-based Jet Executive Limo, according to Georgia State Patrol. The company declined to comment on the crash.
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