Hays school bus carrying 44 preschoolers crashes in Texas
Hays school bus carrying 44 preschoolers crashes in Texas

At least two people, including a child, died Friday afternoon after a school bus carrying dozens of preschoolers overturned in Texas.

Students at Tom Green Elementary School were returning from a field trip to the Bastrop County Zoo, according to a statement from the Hays Consolidated Independent School District. 44 students and 11 adults were traveling in the bus.

The crash happened in Bastrop County, about 40 miles southeast of Austin. Thirty-two people were taken to hospitals, some with minor injuries, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services said.

The bus was westbound on State Highway 21 when an eastbound concrete truck veered into the lane and hit the bus about 2 p.m., said Sgt. Deon Cockle of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Several children were thrown from the bus, he said.

Cockrell said a man in a Dodge Charger hit the bus and was also killed. It was not clear if the man was part of the group from the school. Cockrell said the driver of the concrete truck has cooperated with authorities, noting that it is uncertain if the driver will be charged pending the outcome of the investigation.

The bus did not have seat belts because it was a 2011 model, said Tim Savoy, Hays School District spokesman. School buses built since 2017 have seat belts, he said.

The dead child is a boy, said Kevin Parker, chief of Austin-Travis County EMS. Authorities did not give the boy’s age.

Emergency services treated 53 people for injuries. Parker said four people were taken to hospital by helicopter with critical injuries, but did not say whether the injured were children or adults. Six other people were taken to the hospital by ambulance with potentially serious injuries, Parker said. Others were treated at the scene or taken to hospital with minor injuries. Parker said an ambulance bus was used to transport 10 people with minor injuries to the hospital.

In a statement from X, formerly of Twitter, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called Texans to pray for crash victims. He said he spoke with District Superintendent Eric Wright “and has offered the state’s full support as they assist their community through this tragedy.”

“Thank you to the first responders and law enforcement officers who were on the scene immediately and continue to help their fellow Texans who were injured,” Abbott said.

Family members are reunited with the children

Family members of students on the bus reunited with the children at Tom Green Elementary School.

Jonathan Rivera and his wife, Cynthia Rivera, walked out of Tom Green Elementary School just before 6 p.m. They said they had just learned their 5-year-old niece was OK.

“It was her first school trip because she had just moved from Austin, so it just sucks,” Cynthia Rivera said.

Cynthia Jeskas said her 4-year-old nephew was on the bus. She said he was fine, but she and another relative were going to take him to the hospital because he was a little hurt.

“Kids are more scared than anything else,” she said.

The resident describes the consequences of the accident

Alejandro Anaya, who lives across the street from the bus crash, was at home when he heard the crash. The state highway can be dangerous because people drive fast on the two-lane road, where the speed limit is 65 mph, he said.

“The speed that this highway has is not safe,” Anaya said.

When the crash happened, his family swung into action to calm the frightened children. The family gave the students water and cool towels, he said.

Some children were afraid to board the bus that arrived to take them to be reunited with their parents, he said. They feared another catastrophe.

Across from Anaya’s house, the school bus in the crash lay tilted at an angle on the sloping grassy turnoff.

“Some of the (students) were really, really badly hurt, and some of them were fine; they just had minor scratches,” Anaya said.

It’s scary to think about accidents involving children, he said.

“It was bad, not something anyone would want to see on a child, especially with a family,” Anaya said, pointing to his children playing with toy trucks in his yard.

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