Archery team headed to Louisville escapes Okla. bus fire - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Archery team headed to Louisville escapes Okla. bus fire

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --A record of more than 10,000 of the nation's best young archers are going arrow-to-arrow in Louisville this weekend, but three of the competitors are just lucky to be alive.

WDRB News has obtained video showing an Oklahoma charter bus that caught fire while it was en route to Louisville. The 33 students and adults on board were headed to the National Archery Championship.

Joshua Santos, Zachary Silky and Taylor Van Hoozer say they just wanted to persevere and represent. They're the only members of a 13-person team from Lawton, Oklahoma to make it all the way to Louisville for this weekend's championship.

As they fire away, they're trying to put out of their minds the disaster that hit their team one day earlier. The Flower Mound Bobcats, their coaches and their family members were driving down an Oklahoma interstate early Thursday morning, when their bus instantly turned into a ball of fire.

"All of a sudden our tire popped, and the rubber started to burn and it kept sparking. And the rubber started to burn and it lit the tire on fire," Santos said.

Amazingly, all 33 people on the bus got out safely.

"Most personal belongings, all the luggage, all the school's archery equipment, we're talking about bows for the entire team, arrows, all were gone," said parent Jason Van Hoozer.

"To have our bows gone before nationals is frustrating, because you have to shoot with a bow, you've never experienced it, and it's not the thing you've shot with all your season," said Taylor Van Hoozer.

But, Taylor, Zachary and Joshua all just happy to be here. The rest of the team returned to Oklahoma.

Help for the trio has come from everywhere. The competition's organizers let them use their equipment. A team from Williamstown, Kentucky has literally and figuratively embraced them, even taking up a collection.

"We really thank everybody for all the support, all the text messages. Oklahoma department of wildlife had done a wonderful job of helping us out, too. And, we just want to thank everybody at home and everybody here -- new friends."

And, Taylor Zachary and Joshua know that no matter how they do this weekend, with what they've overcome, they will absolutely return to Oklahoma winners.

Jason Van Hoozer says it's amazing how quickly everyone on the bus woke up in a matter of seconds to escape the burning bus.

The archery tournament runs through Saturday at the Kentucky Exposition Center.

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