Bus-Train Crash Leaves Student Dead in East Texas
Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2019 at 12:41 pm
Last Friday afternoon in East Texas, a thirteen year old student was tragically killed and two people injured after a bus and train collided.
The collision occurred around 4pm at a train crossing in Athens.
Thirteen Year Old Among Killed in the Crash
The teenager killed in the crash was a 13-year-old male according to Athens Police Chief Buddy Hill. One of the injured persons was a 9-year-old girl from a nearby elementary school. She was taken to the nearest Dallas hospital and is listed as stable. She was pinned against the side of the bus after the train was hit leading to her injuries. At the time of the accident, no one else was aboard the bus based on official reports by the school district. The second injured person was the bus driver and he was taken to the hospital with his condition being listed as stable.
At this time, the children’s names have not been released to the public. The bus driver is a 78-year-old male named John Stevens.
Athens school district Superintendent Blake Stiles said investigative work was being conducted to better understand the cause of the crash and what could have been done to prevent it.
Train Crossing Doesn’t Have a Warning Light, According to Preliminary Investigation
Preliminary findings note the train crossing does not have a set of warning lights and/or wooden gate arms to help signal the presence of a train. However, there are signs around the area along with a camera.
The school district also released a statement on behalf of the school. They wished to express their sorrow for what transpired and how it has impacted the students and their loved ones. They also stated what actions were taken to transport the injured student to the local children’s hospital in Dallas and said she was from nearby Central Athens Elementary.
The Independent School District canceled all of its athletic events to show respect to the families.
Initial findings also come from in-depth investigative work on the accident and how it took place. Pictures revealed the impact occurred in the middle of the bus as it was going past the train crossing in Athens. The bus was carried a substantial distance upon impact before the train could fully stop. According to professionals, the measured distance was approximately 0.25 miles before the freight train eventually managed to stop. Emergency services were quick to act by reaching the crossing in minutes and removing the injured persons for further treatment.
Photo via KLTV
Bus Unable to Cross in Time
Based on witness reports, initial findings also uncovered the actions of the bus driver at the time of the accident. It appeared the bus driver waited as required by state law, however, was unable to get across in time as the train came through. With no warning lights/arms to help alleviate this collision, the bus was unable to get across before the train came through at full speed.
Union Pacific Railroad Will Help with the Investigation
Union Pacific Railroad will be assisting with the investigation. Their report will be used to determine what occurred. The Athens Police Chief offered a detailed explanation of how the investigation would take place and what experts would look into. According to him, the police would assess the various signal boxes, signage, and review video recorded by a nearby camera to see what happened moments before the accident.
Athens police hope to uncover additional details on the collision. The Superintendent claimed this was one of the worst days of his career after spending 21 years in the district.
Along with the investigations done around this particular train crossing in Athens, officials will also be monitoring similar train crossings around the area to better understand what’s required to improve public safety. The officials plan to announce information with regards to this research in the coming weeks as more information is made available.
Get Justice for Your Loved One
Williams Kherkher has been helping victims and families of train accidents for over 30 years. Contact us if you have any questions or we can help with a loved one injured or killed in a train accident. There’s never any fee unless we obtain compensation on your behalf. Get in touch with us today if you have lost a loved one from a train accident in Texas, Call us now at (888) 220-0640.