“I do love to drive. That's why I got in the business,” said Tom Walters, owner/driver King’s Highway Charters & Tours. “Well, two reasons I got in the business. One is, I love to drive – I love to go places and I love people. So yep, I love what I do. We travel pretty well all-over North America, and I love traveling, I love going, but always love coming back here. It's just a hometown.”
Texas Tech University is one of King’s Highway’s long-time customers.
“King's Highway is a great partner of Texas Tech Athletics, and Tom and Vickie – they're "Salt of the Earth" people,” said Kirby Hocutt, director of athletics – Texas Tech University. “And there's no one that is more reliable for Texas Tech Athletics than they are.”
“It was my pride and joy. It doesn't matter where we are. We have people taking pictures of 'em. I had a car next to me one day going 70 miles an hour down the highway and this guy's wife is hanging out the window taking a picture of the bus. And I was pretty selective on who drove it or who rode in it, ‘cuz it was pretty special,” said Tom.
January 6, 2022
“[That] brings us to January the 6th. The Texas Tech men's basketball team was flying to Ames, Iowa. I was thinking, ‘I only have about another hour and a half to go,’ and that's where I was gonna spend the night. And so I'm driving along and I look up, and I see this vehicle way over on the shoulder. And just as I'm coming up to that vehicle, they swept across the road, all the way across. And it happened so fast it just pulled me down in the median,” Tom said of the crash.
“It was a dirt crossover for emergency vehicles, and it was about, I would say four to five feet high, and I was going too fast. My only option was to hit it or to go into oncoming traffic. There was just no time. And I hit that, probably doing 50 to 55 miles per hour.”
“When we went up there several months later to look at the bus and the wreck,” Tom’s wife, Vickie Walters recounted. “When we came up on the spot where the bus had actually been airborne, I just started crying. I told Tom, I said, ‘I don't know how you lived through that.’ Because of the safety of the bus, he's alive. Everything inside that bus went through the windshield, except Tom. I said then, ‘We're only buying Prevosts.’”
Thanks to the safety features of his Prevost motorcoach, Tom walked away with minor injuries. Currently, King’s Highway is working with Volvo Financial Services to convert their entire fleet to Prevost.
“There's no explanation for me still being here other than the safety features of the bus and the Lord looking after me,” Tom said. “I can't even describe my own feelings when I went back and looked at the bus and saw how damaged it was, and I walked away.”
After the accident, Tom dispatched a second bus to drive from Texas to Iowa. King’s Highway completed the trip without their client being aware of the wreck.
“Just the fact that you experienced [an] altering wreck like that, that affects you physically, obviously does great harm to the bus, but your first thought is, ‘How do I get to Ames, Iowa to pick up the Texas Tech Basketball Team?’ That just speaks volumes about who Tom is, what King's Highway is about as a company and we're very fortunate to have a partner like King's Highway,” said Kirby.
After the wreck, Volvo Financial Services restructured King’s Highway’s payments in order to provide relief.
“I don't know, honestly, when I get in a different brand of bus I just don't feel comfortable. It makes me not want to drive another bus than Prevost and not finance anywhere else but Volvo Finance. They just, they've just bent over backwards to help us. I'm almost without words to praise both of 'em,” Tom concluded.