Athens ISD School Bus Driver Speaks Out Following Deadly Crash

Police identified the driver of the bus Saturday as 78-year-old John Stevens

The investigation continues into Friday's deadly crash involving a train and school bus in Athens, Texas.

More has come to light about the school bus driver, John Stevens, who police say drove over train tracks right into the path of an oncoming train.

Students at Athens Middle School returned to class Monday morning wearing maroon to honor classmate Christopher Bonilla.

Students also placed flowers at a memorial inside the school building in memory of Bonilla. The 13-year-old was killed in Friday's crash.

Bonilla's 9-year-old cousin was seriously injured in the crash.

Bonilla's funeral will be held Friday at 11 a.m. in the Athens High School gym and classes at all campuses will be canceled, the school district said. Athletic events involving Athens ISD teams will also be rescheduled.

Those wishing to help the families affected by the crash can donate to a benefit account at two First State Bank locations in Athens -- downtown and Tyler Street -- as well as in Malakoff, Mabank, Gun Barrel City and Corsicana.

The school bus driver, identified by police as Stevens, arrived at his home on Monday with visible injuries to his face and arm.

The 78-year-old spoke briefly with NBC 5 and said he wished "40 million times over it wouldn't have happened, but it did," adding "it was an accident."

Regina Fuller is Steven's longtime neighbor.

"He gets up, goes to work and he's really been shook up since Friday," she said.

Fuller said she has driven over the exact crossing where the accident happened.

"There's no light or nothing, nothing for the train to go down, so cars be going through there," she said.

Athens police said Stevens came to a stop, then continued to cross the tracks directly in front of a Union Pacific train.

Although there are not automated arms or warning lights in place, a witness told police they heard the train's horns as it got closer to the crossing.

Athens Independent School District's spokeswoman told NBC 5 that Stevens was hired last August and had driven buses at two other school districts in the state for 11 years.

"[He] came to us with a clean driving record, passed every single test, has every bit certification that a bus driver is supposed to have. That includes a medical examination. He got it, he passed it," Athens ISD spokesperson Toni Clay said.

However, Clay would not say whether bus drivers undergo additional training on a district level.

"From the time he was hired until the tragedy on Friday, there was no incident involving that driver," she said.

Athens police are leading the investigation. Union Pacific is also investigating the crash.

Police were looking at the crash report Monday afternoon trying to determine what led to the crash. Police would not say whether the school bus driver will face any criminal charges.

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