Athens police release crash report on deadly school bus, train collision

ATHENS, TX (KLTV) - The bus driver of an Athens ISD school bus hit by a train last month did stop before driving onto the railroad tracks, according to a crash report released Monday by the Athens Police Department.

Athens Assistant Police Chief Rodney Williams said the driver, 78-year-old John Stevens, of Mabank, met the state requirement by stopping before crossing the tracks. Willams said Stevens stopped in accordance with state law before pulling forward onto the train tracks, according to the report and Assistant Chief Rodney Williams.

According to state law, the operator of a school bus, before crossing a track at a railroad grade crossing: (1) shall stop the vehicle not closer than 15 feet or farther than 50 feet from the track; (2) while stopped, shall listen and look in both directions along the track for an approaching train and signals indicating the approach of a train;and (3) may not proceed until it is safe to do so.

The Athens Police Department will forward the crash report to the Henderson County District Attorney’s office.

Christopher Bonilla, 13, was killed Jan. 25 when the school bus was hit by a Union Pacific train near the Cream Level Road railroad crossing. According to Athens police, the train and the bus came to a stop a quarter of a mile away from the initial collision at the Murchison Street crossing. Bonilla was a student at Athens Middle School.

Athens Central Elementary School student, 9-year-old Joselyne Torres, and the bus driver, 78-year-old John Stevens, of Mabank, were both injured in the crash.

According to a representative with Athens ISD, Joselyne has been released from the hospital. Her condition is unknown.

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