CHICAGO – Grieving friends and relatives of passengers on a tour bus that crashed in Arkansas gathered Saturday at the home of the bus' owner, whose own brother was one of at least 15 people killed in the early morning accident.
Roosevelt Walters, who owns Walters Charter and Tours (search) of Chicago, was still waiting to learn the fate of his wife, Mareen, who had organized the trip to a Mississippi casino city for a group of friends, retirees and teachers.
He said his brother, Herbert Walters, was driving. Later, Arkansas authorities called to tell Walters his brother was dead.
"He lost a brother and now he's looking for his wife," said the Rev. Curtis Reed, a family spokesman.
About 40 people gathered at Walters' home. The sound of wailing could be heard outside.
"This thing that happened, nobody has an answer for. All we can do is direct them to God," Reed said.
The bus crashed about 5 a.m. on Interstate 55 (search) in northeastern Arkansas, outside Memphis, Tenn.
It was headed to Tunica, Miss., (search) a city south of Memphis that is the home of several popular casinos.
Thirty-one people had been on the bus, and each of the 16 survivors was injured, Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said.
Authorities had not determined the cause of the crash.
John Perry-Hawkins Jr., 15, arrived at Roosevelt Walters' house with his mother and siblings to find out about his father, John Hawkins, and his grandmother, Betty Lou Jamison.
Mareen Walters is his grandmother's sister, and he said she organized the trips to Tunica twice a year, every October and March.
"We pray to God that my father, my grandma and the rest of them are OK," Perry-Hawkins said.
Bill Lyons and Michelle Chambers knew their father was at a hospital with a broken leg, but they had no information on their mother, Maxie Lyons.
The brother and sister said the tour bus was filled with a group of retired friends and that their parents had taken the trip to Tunica several times before.
Etta Smith, who lives across the street from the Walters on Chicago's South Side, said she has known the family for years.
She said Mareen Walters had told her she'd be back on Monday.
"I told them to have a safe trip," Smith said, shaking her head.