A 22-year-old man living in Austin was killed Monday morning and two other men were seriously injured in a three-vehicle collision about 7:10 a.m. on Hwy. 16 north of FM-140.
The accident involved a black Honda Accord, a Jourdanton ISD school bus and a white GMC 4×4 pickup.
The driver of the Honda was alive as rescue efforts began but died before the rescue could be completed. The deceased driver had a temporary Texas identification card. DPS Trooper Deon Cockrell identified the driver as Nnaemeka Valentine Egwim.
Investigators were told the Honda allegedly tried to pass the Jourdanton bus on the right side road shoulder about five miles south of Jourdanton.
The Honda clipped the bus. The bus and the Honda both collided with the GMC pickup, which was traveling in the opposite direction.
It was the subsequent impact with the pickup that knocked the front wheels and axle loose from the bus, leaving the bus containing its driver, Joe Lopez, an aide and 44 students without a means of steering. Sixteen of the students were of Jr. High and High School ages. The students, most of elementary age, had just been picked up from Christine and were on their way to their morning classes in Jourdanton.
Miraculously, the Jourdanton ISD bus (with no front wheels after the second crash) skidded to a stop between the roadway and bar ditch — and stayed upright.
Superintendent Lana Collavo praised the driver for his actions in keeping the bus under control after the initial impact with the Honda. “He (Lopez) and an aide did a very good job working with the children, transferring the students to another bus when it arrived. The people at the hospital, the parents and our staff members worked efficiently and effectively together. The hospital staff even served snacks to the children.” Superintendent Collavo and principals from each campus went to the crash site to assist with the students.
School officials, law enforcement officers and parents who came to the scene, have continued praising Lopez for steering straight while there were still wheels attached to the front of the bus. This kept the bus from swerving and overturning.
Trying to hold back his emotions, Lopez said he could only think about caring for the children.
A team of counselors from the Safe School program arrived Tuesday morning to assist Jourdanton students to deal with any emotional problems.
There were 44 students on the bus and NONE were seriously injured — only a couple of students received a scratch or bruise. Another bus picked up the students and took them to STRMC where they were checked out medically, treated and then released.
Two men who were passengers in the white GMC pickup were both injured. One was taken to STRMC and the other was flown to University Hospital in San Antonio. A woman, who was driving the pickup was not injured and did assist the injured at the scene.
DPS troopers working on the accident had the highway closed for several hours in order to conduct the investigation. Pleasanton, Jourdanton and Christine fire departments assisted at the scene.