JP on Trinity ISD school van wreck: 'It's just a tragedy'

Journey Magness (Source: Trinity County Sheriff's Office)
Journey Magness (Source: Trinity County Sheriff's Office)
Magness family (Source: Trinity County Sheriff's Office)
Magness family (Source: Trinity County Sheriff's Office)

TRINITY COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - One child is dead and 11 other people were injured after a Thursday morning wreck in Trinity that involved a Trinity ISD school van.

Sheriff Woody Wallace said the child who died is Journey Magness, 7, the daughter of Deputy David Magness.

The Texas Department of Public Safety released a corrected statement at 2:30 p.m., saying five children from the van were taken to a Trinity hospital by ambulance. Three other children in the van, as well as the driver, were taken by private vehicle to the ambulance for precautionary measures. Three of the injured children were treated and released, as of 11 a.m.

Three children from the other vehicle were also taken to a Trinity hospital, two by ambulance and one by private vehicle.

According to DPS, Chandra Wheeler, 55, of Trinity, was driving a 2015 Chevy Trinity ISD van eastbound on FM 1893 at 7:26 a.m., loaded with several children and had stopped to pick up a child when it was struck from behind by a 2008 Ford pickup, driven by Micah Brock, 17, of Trinity.

The truck with three passengers crashed into a fence, a DPS official said. Brock was not injured in the wreck.

Wallace said Brock told DPS she was blinded by the sunlight before she hit the van.

"Supposedly, the young lady who hit the van said she couldn't see," said Trinity County Justice of the Peace Lyle Stubbs, a close friend of the Magness family. "I don't know if it was from the sun or from ice on the windshield because of heavy frost this morning. She said she didn't see them."

All the children were properly restrained at the time of the crash, according to on-scene investigators.

DPS states Brock was not injured.

FM 1893 was closed until about 1:30 p.m.

"It's going to be a very difficult time for the sheriff's office, and we're doing everything we can to support the child's family, and are asking for everyone's prayers," Wallace said.

Trinity County Justice of the Peace Hayne Huffman said he performed the inquest on Journey. He said he has been involved with Trinity ISD for many years, including as a board member. He called the wreck the most tragic event that he could recall in the school's history and said it is the only transportation fatality he is aware of.

"It's gonna affect everyone," Huffman said. "It's just a tragedy."

Dr. John Kaufman, Trinity ISD's superintendent released the following statement:

"The safety of the students and staff of Trinity ISD is our highest priority, and we mourn the loss of one of our students. All of the students, staff and their families involved in this incident are in the thoughts and prayers of the Trinity ISD family."

Kaufman said Trinity ISD had meetings with teachers scheduled for after school Thursday. He also said they made contact with the parents of the other students involved in the wreck.

"We have counselors scheduled to come in tomorrow," Kaufman said.

Kaufman said the decision on whether to use a van to transport students is about convenience. He explained if there is less than 15 students, they use the van. The decision also depends on the route, Kaufman said.

In this case, Trinity ISD officials had an occasion where they had to split the route up, Kaufman said. As a result, they chose to use the van to transport the smaller group of students.

An account for the Magness family has been set up at First National Bank in Trinity. Money can be mailed to David Magness Benefit for Journey Magness, First National Bank, P.O. Box 792, Trinity, TX, 75862.

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