Driver of 18-wheeler who hit Kirbyville ISD school bus charged w - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Driver of 18-wheeler who hit Kirbyville ISD school bus charged with injury to child

Source: Mike Lout/KJAS Source: Mike Lout/KJAS
Source: Mike Lout/KJAS Source: Mike Lout/KJAS
Source: Mike Lout/KJAS Source: Mike Lout/KJAS
Source: Mike Lout/KJAS Source: Mike Lout/KJAS
Robert Watson (Source: Jasper County Jail) Robert Watson (Source: Jasper County Jail)
JASPER COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - In the wake of the Texas Department of Public's decision to file a felony injury to a child charge against him, the driver of the 18-wheeler that rear-ended a Kirbyville ISD school bus and injured six children on Nov. 5 turned himself into authorities Friday.

Robert Watson, 72, of Monroe Louisiana, turned himself in to the Jasper County Sheriff's Office. He was charged with state-jail felony injury to a child, and he was released after he posted a $7,500 bail, according to Jasper County Sheriff Mitchell Newman.

Trooper Stephanie Davis, a DPS spokeswoman said that the investigation into the crash is still ongoing.

According to a previous East Texas News story, the southbound school bus had come to a complete stop on US 96 north of Kirbyville on the morning of Nov. 5 and the driver had turned on the bus' flashing lights to allow one student to board the bus. A press release issued on the day of the crash stated that the student had gotten on the bus and had gone to his seat when the accident occurred.

At that point, Watson's southbound 2007 Freightliner tractor-trailer rig slammed into the rear end of the school bus. However, it wasn't a direct hit because Watson veered to the left and hit the bus in the back left quarter panel, the press release stated.

Because of the crash, five students were taken to Jasper Memorial Hospital for treatment of injuries, and another was taken by ambulance to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont. Other students were taken to be checked out after their parents picked them up at the scene. The 52-year-old school bus driver was shaken up in the accident, but she was not seriously hurt.

"At this time, none of the injuries sustained by the students are believed to be life-threatening," the press release stated. "The driver of the Freightliner, 72 year old Robert Watson, of Monroe, Louisiana, was visibly shaken in the crash, but did not sustain any injuries."

Trooper Stephanie Davis, a DPS spokeswoman said that the investigation into the crash is still ongoing.

Davis said DPS chose to file the injury to a child charge against Watson because of the injuries that resulted from the wreck and evidence found at the scene. She said a state-jail felony carries a penalty ranging from 180 days to two years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

“Troopers have submitted the case to the Jasper County District Attorney's office,” Davis said. “Once the investigation is turned over to the District Attorney's office, DPS no longer has authority over the case file.  The Texas Department of Public Safety will continue to work closely with the Jasper County District Attorney's office as it relates to this case.”

There were 53 students ranging in age from 5 to 18 on the bus when the accident occurred.

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