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Willie Nelson's band members injured in Texas bus crash

By Noreen O'Donnell

(Reuters) - Country singer Willie Nelson's drummer broke his hip and two other band members suffered minor injuries after their bus hit a highway overpass pillar in heavy rains in East Texas early Saturday morning, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The accident forced Nelson to suspend tour dates through the end of the month, according to the band's website.

The bus, carrying the driver and five band members, crashed on Interstate 30 near Sulphur Springs, 80 miles northeast of Dallas, about 3:30 a.m., Trooper Sylvia Jennings said.

"The driver stated that he had been driving through heavy, heavy rains and high winds and was having a difficult time driving," Jennings said. "I guess at some point he lost control, went off the road and hit one of the columns of one of the overpasses."

Nelson's drummer, Paul English, broke his hip, and two bandmates - English's brother, Billy, and Thomas Ray Hawkins - had bumps and bruises, Jennings said. They were taken to Hopkins County Memorial Hospital.

"Willie Nelson's band bus (not Willie's bus) was in an accident overnight on icy I-30," said Nelson's website. "3 members of the family were hospitalized. Additional information will be released as we get it."

The band had been scheduled to play the Horseshoe Tunica Casino in Tunica, Mississippi, on Saturday night.

Nelson, a singer and songwriter, is perhaps best known for his Farm Aid benefit concerts. His hits include "Always on My Mind" and "Whiskey River."

(Reporting by Noreen O'Donnell; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Gunna Dickson)

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