A collision between a minivan and a bus carrying senior citizens in Colleton County this afternoon sent nine people to hospitals.

The minivan, occupied only by the driver, crossed the center line of a two-lane section of U.S. 17 south of Green Pond about 1:30 p.m. and hit the bus, according to the Highway Patrol.

The bus, carrying seven senior citizens, was assigned to the Colleton County Council on Aging. The collision ripped off most of the passenger side. The minivan was also heavily damaged.

Six ambulances and three paramedic first-response units arrived to treat patients on scene, Colleton County Fire and Rescue Chief Barry McRoy said.

Eight people were taken to Colleton Regional Medical Center, and another person was airlifted from the scene to Medical University Hospital. Two of the patients were transferred from the Walterboro hospital to MUSC by helicopter later in the day.

Traffic was backed up for several miles in each direction this afternoon as officers rerouted motorists.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or twitter.com/dmunday.