Bus Driver, Student Remain In Critical Condition; 3 Others Released

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LITTLE RIVER (January 18, 2012)—Three of the four students who were still in the hospital at the start of the day Wednesday after a grinding collision Tuesday between a Lowes delivery truck and their school bus were home Wednesday afternoon.

But the fourth student and a longtime Academy ISD school bus driver remained in critical condition Wednesday.

Scott & White Hospital spokesman Scott Clark said the driver, Jimmy Johnson, remained in critical condition Wednesday in intensive care.

Academy School Superintendent Kevin Sprinkles said Johnson has not regained consciousness since the accident.

Sprinkles also said the student who is still hospitalized is in critical condition.

The parents of one of the injured children confirmed Wednesday they have retained a lawyer and said they were advised not to talk to the media about the child’s condition.

An online petition drive was launched Wednesday calling for such precautions at the highway intersection where the crash occurred as speed bumps, flashing sights and a flashing light.

Organizer Melissa Powell calls the petition "4 The Sake of Our Children," and said in an e-mail the effort is on behalf of the students, their families and the bus driver.

Petition Drive Web Page

Counselors were on hand Wednesday at schools to help students deal with the accident.

During an emergency meeting of the school board on Tuesday night, Sprinkles said he plans to host a town hall meeting next week with Department of Public Safety troopers so parents can get answers.

Sprinkles also said after the Texas Department of Public Safety investigation is complete, the school board will address safety concerns about the intersection where the accident happened.

The Tuesday morning collision between a school bus and the Lowe's truck near Little River sent 29 children and three adults to Scott & White Hospital and Scott & White Children's Hospital.

Four children and the bus driver were admitted, but the rest suffered what were apparently minor injuries.

By 5 p.m. Tuesday, most of the people involved had been released, the hospital said.

But Johnson, an employee of the district for 27 years, and one eighth-grade student were listed in critical condition Tuesday.

The driver of the Lowes truck and a passenger were also injured and were taken to the hospital.

Their injuries were minor, a state trooper said.

Lowes issued a brief statement Wednesday in which the company said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this accident and with their families. We are cooperating with authorities as they conduct their investigation into the accident.”

The accident happened at around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at the intersection of FM 93 and Old Highway 95.

Thomas Pechal, of Temple Fire & Rescue, said the Little River-Academy school bus came to rest on its side.

The bus was carrying elementary and middle school children.

Pechal said all of the passengers on the bus were taken to area hospitals for treatment and evaluation.

A 9-year-old boy was ejected through a hatch in the roof of a bus.

A spokeswoman from the Little River-Academy ISD said the bus involved in the accident was bus Number 7.

The bus was westbound on FM 93 and the truck was southbound on Old Highway 95 when the driver of the truck ran a stop sign, according to a state trooper.

There was fog in the area early Tuesday, but it's not clear whether that might have been a factor, the trooper said.

Fire units from Little River, Temple and Belton were at the scene along with a large number of ambulances.

(Photo by Jim Peeler)
(Photo by Jim Peeler)
(Photo by Melissa Nix)