Thirteen people were killed and two were injured in a crash Wednesday afternoon between a church bus and a pickup truck, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The bus was carrying senior members of First Baptist Church in New Braunfels. Only one victim inside the bus has survived the crash while the other 13 have died. Both are listed in fair condition at local hospitals.
On Friday, calls to local county sheriff's offices reveal that a witness, Jody Kuchler, reported seeing the truck that crashed into the church bus driving erratically. Kuchler even recorded video on a cell phone of the truck swerving all across the highway before the deadly crash.
Kuchler also said that he was among the first to arrive on the scene of the crash and that the driver of the truck, identified as 20-year-old Jack Dillon Young, said that he'd been distracted because he was on his cell phone.
Kuchler claims that he did not smell any alcohol when he approached the driver of the truck while he was pinned inside his vehicle and that he doesn't think that alcohol was a factor in the crash. But the Texas Department of Public safety will have to determine that with their own investigation.
The National Transportation Safety Board provided an update to their investigation on Friday in Uvalde.
“That bus was equipped with seat belts. The rear passenger seats on the bus were equipped with only lap belts, so lap-only belts," said Jennifer Morrison, an NTSB investigator. "Preliminarily, at this time, it appears that most if not all of the bus passengers were wearing seat belts.”
Morrison was asked to clarify what she meant by "rear passenger seats" and how many of the passengers only had access to lap belts:
“The driver, as well as his front-seat passenger, had standard, three-point seat belts. The rear occupants had lap-only. At this time, preliminarily, we believe that most if not all passengers on the bus were wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash.”
NTSB says that their investigation will continue "for the better part of a week."
Meanwhile, the New Braunfels community continues to grieve the loss of so many of their church-going citizens, friends, and family members.
A DPS spokesperson said Wednesday evening that the pickup truck traveling on Highway 83 near Garner State Park veered into the oncoming lane and collided with the bus. It had not been determined what caused the driver to cross into the other lane.
Pastor Brad McLean said his congregation is in shock following the crash, but "finds peace" knowing his "members are with the Lord."
On Thursday, KENS 5 started learning more about the victims as the names were released to the public.
Many of the lives lost were retirees who left behind large families.
The names of the 13 victims and two survivors were released Thursday morning.
The church members had been attending an annual spring retreat for people age 55 and older.
Two of the victims were transported to University Hospital in San Antonio for treatment after the crash, according to a spokesperson for the hospital. One of those people later died.
One other victim was taken to San Antonio Military Medical Center.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement in response to the crash, saying he wanted to extend his deepest condolences:
"We are saddened by the loss of life, and our hearts go out to all those affected. We thank the first responders working on the scene in the wake of this unimaginable tragedy."