SEGUIN -- Bits of burnt homework could be seen from the open emergency door, left ajar after a freshman football player helped fellow students off his burning school bus.
“At this time, we have zero fatalities. We are very blessed when it comes to that,” said State Trooper Jason Reyes.
Bus #2 was headed to Barnes Middle School and Seguin High School with 9 children on board, when the unexpected happened along Hwy 123: troopers say a PT Cruiser had moved to the shoulder to allow an 18-wheeler to pass.
It was a courtesy that officers say became complicated.
Trooper Reyes added, “It was at that time that the PT Cruiser was clipped. Once it was clipped, it forced it into the northbound lane of traffic, striking the school bus head on.”
That set-off a chain reaction and a fire, which quickly spread to the four vehicles, charring the twisted mass as children and drivers scurried for safety. All 13-people would be injured, but survived.
Firefighters found the cab of the bus separated from its wheels and upside down. School officials said the bus was 3-weeks old with a modern design that allowed the chassis to detach in a collision, minimizing the impact on passengers.
Seguin ISD spokesperson Sean Hoffmann said, “The fact that the body of the bus isn’t connected to the frame probably saved lives today.”
Hoffman said the bus was unusually unoccupied. Many of the high school seniors had the day off, because students in schools statewide are taking the STARR exams. Hoffmann said the injured students will have to make-up that test at a later date.
The Texas Department of Public Safety’s accident reconstruction team is combing through the wreckage, because troopers say the accident had all the right ingredients of a mass-casualty event.
But, it also had the right people responding at the right time.
“The true heroes in this were some workers on their way to work from Halliburton. From what I was told they helped remove a lot of students from the bus and direct traffic. We got to give praise to those guys,” said Reyes.
The driver of the 18-wheeler was flown to University Hospital in critical condition. The school bus driver and one student are at San Antonio area hospitals. The other victims received treatment at Guadalupe Regional Medical Center in Seguin.
GRMC spokesperson Kelsey Stewart said the hospital brought in extra staff to help direct families and coordinate care for the victims.
At least one victim’s family told KENS-TV they have already hired an attorney.