Despite heroic efforts from two passersby, an Arlington police officer died Wednesday morning after his motorcycle collided with a school bus and burst into flames.
Officer Craig Gordon Story, 34, was pursuing a speeding vehicle with his lights and sirens on in the northbound lanes of South Cooper Street when he struck a southbound school bus that was turning left at Lynda Lane, police said. It happened about 7:15 a.m.
Story was ejected from the motorcycle, which caught fire, witnesses said.
Jose Medina saw the crash in his rearview mirror while driving to work. He said he saw the fire right away, made a U-turn and jumped out of his car to try to help. Medina said he and another man tried using their coats to put out the fire, but there was nothing they could do.
"It was too late," Medina said.
Story was pronounced dead at the scene.
Nine students ranging in age from 6 to 13 were on the bus at the time of the crash. The students were from five Arlington schools -- Crow, Ditto and Dunn elementary schools and Bailey and Young junior high schools.
None of the children was injured, and all were taken to Arlington High School, where they spoke with police before being released to their parents. Grief counselors were also made available.
The bus driver, Milagros Valerio, was not injured.
Valerio, 54, started working with the district in April 2009. He has received no reprimands or commendations during his tenure. Prior to joining the AISD, he lived in Florida and was self-employed.
"This morning’s accident is a terrible tragedy. We are keeping the Story family and the APD family in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time," Superintendent Jerry McCullough said. "The AISD is cooperating fully with the APD in their investigation into this matter."
Arlington Police Chief Theron Bowman said he was grateful for community support.
"Our officers and our personnel here at this department will miss Craig greatly, but we want to say thanks publicly for the outpouring of support that we've already received," Bowman said. "And thank you to the public for your warm showing of support in this very, very difficult time for Arlington police employees," said Bowman."
Story is survived by his wife, Danielle, and son, John.
"I can tell you though, that from knowing Officer Story, he absolutely loved his wife Danielle. He was crazy about his 2-year-old son John. In fact, on a number of occasions, he referred to his son John as being the most handsome boy ever born on Earth," said Bowman.
The police chaplain, Harold Elliot, said the couple just learned Tuesday that they were expecting their second child.
Elliot said it was difficult to inform Story's wife that he had died because the police department is like family.
"When she came to the door, she knew why we were there," Elliot said. "The first thing, she just began by saying, 'No, no!'"
Story, a native of Wichita Falls, worked patrol in the North and East districts and was nominated for East officer of the Year in 2005. He also received 19 commendations during his seven years with the Arlington Police Department. He was also a member of the Tactical Unit.
He had a black belt in Jujitsu and was an amateur wrestler and weightlifter, Arlington police spokeswoman Tiara Ellis Richard said. Story knew Spanish and was learning Vietnamese with another officer.
The fatal crash is the third traffic-related fatality in the city of Arlington this year. Story is the second Arlington officer to die in the line of duty in the last decade. In 2001, Officer Joey Cushman was shot and killed during a training exercise.
Investigators questioned the bus driver but have not said who was at fault in the accident.
A memorial fund has been established at the Arlington Credit Union. Donations can also be made to the APA Benevolent Fund c/o Arlington Police Association at P.O. Box 27 Arlington, Texas 76004.