WARREN, TX (KTRE) - A church bus has been involved in a wreck in Tyler County.
Texas DPS Sgt. Stephanie Davis confirmed the crash occurred on Highway 69 just north of Warren at about 5:30 p.m. Davis said it involves multiple vehicles, and that there are injuries.
Sgt. Davis said initial reports indicated that First Baptist Church of Warren’s bus was traveling southbound on US Hwy 69 in Tyler County. According to witnesses, a passenger vehicle pulled out from a driveway in front of the bus. In an attempt to avoid colliding with the vehicle, the driver of the bus tried to maneuver around the vehicle, but lost control. The bus traveled off the roadway and struck a tree, Davis says.
At the time of the crash, there were nine occupants on the bus, including six kids ranging in age from 9-14.
The driver, 38-year-old Robert Craig of Wildwood, was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries. According to the church’s website, Craig is the minister of students at the church.
One of the adult passengers, 62-year-old Doug Sheffield of Warren, was flown to a Beaumont hospital with serious injuries.
The second adult passenger, 42-year-old James Craft Jr. of Woodville, was pronounced deceased by Justice of the Peace Trisher Ford at the scene, Davis said.
The children were transported to separate hospitals and their injuries are not believed to be life threatening. Two children were transported to Tyler County hospital; two children were transported to Baptist hospital and one child was transported St. Elizabeth hospital. The final child was transported by personal vehicle to a Beaumont hospital, according to Davis.
Milton Blades owns a meat market across the street from the scene of the wreck. He said he heard it when it happened.
“I heard the tires screeching and I heard them slam into the tree and I came out and my assistant manager and I ran across the road immediately, helping them get the children off the bus," he said.
He said the experience was traumatic.
“We helped tear the back door open, because it was locked from the inside. We then helped get the children out. Ran around to the side and started trying to help the ones who were seriously injured."
He said first responders arrived shortly after.
He said the wreck is upsetting most especially because children were involved.
“Very upsetting that the children had to go through this. I have grandchildren of my own and to see this happen is to those children is very hard.”
All northbound and southbound traffic lanes of US 69 were closed for approximately two hours, but have since reopened, Sgt. Davis confirms.
All information is preliminary as troopers investigate this fatal crash.
Stay with KTRE and KTRE.com for updates.