The Athens Review
Athens Independent School District operations went on as usual Thursday morning, just hours after two school buses collided on South Palestine Street, injuring several students.
The wreck occurred while buses were making scheduled runs to deliver students to their after-school destinations. Students from the two buses involved in the collision were transported to nearby East Texas Medical Center for observation and treatment of non-life threatening injuries. All of the students were in the 5 to 10-year-old range.
Nine students were transported to the facility by East Texas Medical Center EMS, with various fractures, bumps and bruises. Another 60 students were taken there by bus to be checked out.
The Athens Police Department received the 911 call reporting the bus wreck at 3:33 p.m. Cpl. Jason Bosher, who is leading the investigation from the department, gathered statements from witnesses and evidence at the wreck scene.
Bosher reported that the first bus, driven by Courtney Hatton, 31, of Malakoff, was traveling south in the 1300 block of South Palestine Street when it slowed for a vehicle that was making a right turn onto Rosedale Drive. The driver of the second bus, Roberta Roberts, 54, of Athens, was following and failed to control speed, causing the bus to strike the first bus. The bus driven by Roberts left the roadway, where it struck three unattended parked cars and a street sign.
Responders from Athens Fire Department, AISD Police Department and the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department rushed to the scene to assist with the wreck and getting the children to safety. The last AFD unit cleared the scene at 5:43 p.m.
“I will say that I was very impressed with all of our first responders,” AISD Superintendent Blake Stiles said. “I thought they were quick and professional. The ETMC staff was outstanding and very helpful. I was also impressed with our parents. They were calm and patient, which made the situation easier.”
On Thursday, Stiles said the school day went relatively smoothly.
“It seemed to. To my knowledge, I don’t think we had many who missed the bus this morning. So I think all was well,” Stiles said. “The school district is just glad there were no serious injuries.”
Stiles said help was available to any student that might have been affected by the wreck emotionally.
“I had a conversation with one of the counselors of the elementary schools last night, and she was going to make that available to them,” Stiles said.