Ellis County

Hospitals Treat 16 After School Bus Crash

All but one of the 12 children hospitalized Tuesday morning after a school bus tipped onto its side in Waxahachie have been sent home.

Waxahachie Independent School District officials said 20 children — all thought to be 10 and 11 years old — were on the bus that crashed at about 6:50 a.m. near Farm-to-Market Road 879 and Ike Road on the way to Clift Elementary School.

Officials said something in the back of the bus distracted the driver, causing him to look away from the road. While making a turn, the rear wheel of the bus left the road, the driver swerved into the opposite lane, overcorrected and the bus tipped as it came to rest in a ditch.

Damien Beck, 11, was in the back of the bus. He said he said the bus started swerving a little, then went faster before it flipped over.  Without seat belts on the bus, the students were thrown from their seats.

“Everybody flew to the top," said Beck, who held onto his seat and forced the exit door open. “The exit door, I couldn’t open it. So had to like, push it, kick it, it still wouldn’t open and then I kept on trying and I opened. And everybody escaped from the bus."

“This is my first time hearing that and I’m proud of him. I’m proud of him for doing that," said Monica Shope, Beck's aunt.

The bus was the only vehicle involved, police said.

Fernando Rocha, 10, suffered two broken ribs and will spend the night at Children's Medical Center in Dallas.  He is the last student to remain hospitalized following the crash.

“Fernando has two broken ribs. He has a bruise on one kidney and they believe there might be a bruise on the liver also,” said Carmen Castillo, the fifth grader’s aunt.

His 8-year-old brother, a third grader, was also on the bus and was sent home after getting stiches.

“He’s got a lot off glass and debris still in there and they’re hoping that there’s not any more damage to his muscle of ligaments or anything like that,” said Castillo. “But the main worry, of course, is about the children getting better and how they’re going to feel about getting on a bus to go back to school when they do return.”

“[We are] very lucky no one was going in the opposite direction, because you did notice he did cross into that opposite lane there," said Sr. Trooper James Colunga, with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Randy Sachs, media relations for Children's Medical Center of Dallas, said the hospital treated eight children for head and neck pain and abdominal problems. He said they would remain in the hospital for X-rays and evaluation during the next few hours.

Baylor Medical Center at Waxahachie officials said they treated the driver and seven children brought by ambulance. Three of those children were brought to the hospital for evaluation by their parents.

"I want to applaud the emergency crews for their quick action to help our students and families," Waxahachie ISD Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Glenn said in a news release. "The safety and security of our students will always be our No. 1 priority."

The driver was not identified by police.

Waxahachie is located about 25 miles south of Dallas.

Stay tuned to NBC 5 for the latest updates. NBC 5's Kevin Cokely, Jeff Smith, Josh Ault contributed to this report.

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