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Thursday, March 15, 2007
Bluffton baseball coach released from hospital

Associated Press

ATLANTA -- A college baseball coach injured in a bus crash that killed five of his players and injured 28 was released from the hospital Thursday, and said the hardest part was not being able to be with his close-knit team to help them grieve.

James Grandey
Bluffton baseball coach James Grandey says he remembers nothing of the March 2 crash.
"It's hard not to be there as their coach," James Grandey said outside the hospital. "I want to help them through the process."

Grandey, the baseball coach at Bluffton University in Ohio, was injured along with 28 players in the March 2 crash on Interstate 75 in Atlanta. Five players, and the bus driver and his wife, were killed.

Grandey, who suffered multiple broken facial bones, said that God brings only situations that people can handle.

"I wonder why I survived ... I don't know, God has a reason," said Grandey, 29, dark bruises under his eyes and his jaw still partially wired shut. "There's a reason for those that didn't survive as well. We'll never know that answer until we ourselves pass away."

Grandey added, "In some way we'll have to find a way to turn this into a positive."

Grandey, who sat in the front seat of the bus, he said he remembers nothing of the crash.

"The last thing I remember is turning the DVD player off and laying down to go to sleep," he said. "The next thing I know I'm sitting in the median, trying to figure out how we fell."

Investigators said the bus driver apparently mistook the ramp for a regular highway lane, traveling up it at "highway speeds." The bus than crashed into a concrete barrier at a T-intersection at the top of the ramp, flipped off the overpass and fell 30 feet back onto the interstate.

Tim Berta, a student coach and senior from Ida, Mich., remained in critical condition Thursday at Grady Memorial Hospital, said spokeswoman Denise Simpson. Berta is the only player to remain hospitalized from the crash.

His father, Rob Berta, said his son, who remains on a respirator, squeezed his hand after he spoke to Tim early Wednesday.

On Wednesday, state road workers began adding safety features, such as signs and reflective stripes, to several commuter-lane exits along the interstate in Atlanta, including the one involved in the bus crash.

Paul Schlamm, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the agency is still investigating the crash and it has not made any conclusions or recommendations. But he said a preliminary report likely will be released next week.