Police Identify Students on School Bus in Deadly Texas Crash - NBC 6 South Florida
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Police Identify Students on School Bus in Deadly Texas Crash

13-year-old Christopher Bonilla died at the scene, while 9-year-old Joselyne Torres was taken by helicopter to a Dallas hospital

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Priest Calls Athens School Bus Crash 'Darkest 24 Hours' the Parish Has Ever Had

    Father Nolan Lowry of St. Edward's Catholic Church in Athens says the last day has been the hardest his parish has ever experienced, following a school bus crash that killed a 13-year-old boy. (Published Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019)

    Police identified Saturday the two students aboard a school bus in Athens, Texas when it was struck by a train Friday afternoon, killing one of them and injuring the other.

    Police said 13-year-old Christopher Bonilla, a student at Athens Middle School, died from his injuries after he was ejected from the bus near the Cream Level Road crossing.

    A 9-year-old girl, Joselyne Torres, was trapped inside the bus, but was extricated by firefighters, police said. The Central Athens Elementary school student was taken by helicopter to Children's Medical Center in Dallas, where she had surgery and was in stable condition as of Saturday afternoon.

    Both children belong to the congregation of St. Edward's Catholic Church in Athens, which sits just a few blocks from where the crash happened. 

    "It has been the darkest 24 hours I think we've ever had to go through, not only for our church, but for Athens in general," Father Nolan Lowry said.

    As police continue to investigate what went wrong, he's urging the community not to point fingers. 

    "Accidents happen. All we can do is ask for God's grace to help us heal after that," Lowry said.

    Police said the driver of the bus, 78-year-old John Stevens of Mabank, was treated for injuries before being released from the hospital.

    "Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been so deeply devastated by this tragedy," Athens Police Chief Buddy Hill said. "During this time we ask that the families be given the comfort, support, and dignity that they deserve."

    In addition to the names of those on board, Athens police released more details regarding their investigation into what caused the crash.

    Police said the bus came to a stop before the train tracks, but then continued to cross -- directly in front of a Union Pacific train. The train pushed the bus about one quarter of a mile down the tracks before it came to a stop.

    While the intersection where the crash happened did not have any flashing lights or arms, police said a witness told them the train sounded its horn as it approached the intersection.

    The train crew did not sustain any injuries.