Students Killed, Others Injured in Early Morning HISD School Bus Crash [UPDATED]

Students Killed, Others Injured in Early Morning HISD School Bus Crash [UPDATED]

Update 9/16/2015 at 2:00 p.m.:
The Houston Chronicle has identified the two students killed in Tuesday morning school bus crash as 17-year-old Mariya Johnson, a junior at REACH Charter High School, and Janiecia Chatman, a 14-year-old freshman at Furr High School. 

Update 3:22 p.m.  The HISD press office confirms it received some wrong information and the driver of the Buick was not injured in the accident. 

Update 3:14 p.m. The Houston Police Department corrected its release to say that one of the two surviving teenage victims is male.  

Update 1:45 p.m. The Houston Police Department has released this information.

The identities of both juvenile victims are pending verification by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

HPD Vehicular Crimes Division Sergeant G. Lopez and Officer B. Collins reported:

The female driver of a gold Buick LeSabre was traveling eastbound on the South Loop when she made an unsafe lane change and struck a Houston Independant School District bus, also traveling eastbound. The impact caused the school bus to veer to the right and strike the guardrail. The bus then went off the overpass and onto the roadway below. One female passenger in the school bus died at the scene. A second female passenger on the bus was transported to the hospital where she died. Two male bus passengers were transported to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries. The driver of the school bus was transported to Ben Taub General Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The driver of the Buick, who was not injured, showed no signs of impairment. She was questioned and released at the scene.

No charges have been filed at this time, as the investigation is continuing.  

The Houston Press is awaiting word back to try to clear up the conflict on whether the driver of the Buick was injured in the accident.  

Update 1:15 p.m. HISD has provided more information about the people involved in the school bus wreck.  The female who died at the scene was a 17-year-old REACH Charter High School student. The student who was transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, was a 14-year-old Furr High School student.

The two remaining students, both of whom attend REACH, and the bus driver were taken to hospitals where they are being treated for serious injuries. Further information about their conditions is not available at this time.

The other vehicle was driven by an HISD teacher, who also was seriously injured in the accident.

Update 11:22 a.m. HISD now says that one of the students attended Furr High School and the other attended the dropout recovery school REACH, located on the Furr campus. It further reported:

The bus was transporting four students to Furr High School when it was hit by another vehicle on Loop 610 around 7 a.m. The bus then left the freeway and crashed onto Telephone Road. 

The bus was purchased new in 2008 and was equipped with lap belts for students. The bus was also equipped with seven security cameras. Footage from those cameras is being reviewed as part of the ongoing investigation.

Update 10:10 a.m.: HISD just confirmed that a Tuesday morning school bus crash killed two students and seriously injured two others along with the bus driver. According to a statement from the district: 

"Preliminary indications are that the bus was bound for Furr High School and was carrying approximately four students when the crash occurred around 7 a.m. One student, an African American female, was pronounced dead at the crash scene. The other student was pronounced dead later at an area hospital. Two other students and the driver have been taken to hospitals. Further information about their conditions is not available at this time."

It's unclear at this time whether the deceased and injured students attended Furr High School or were students at REACH Charter High School, which is located on the Furr campus. 

The accident is currently being investigated by Houston ISD Police and HPD. According to the district, the bus driver has been with HISD for about three years and has a clean driving record. The district says that records show the bus last underwent a maintenance inspection in June.

Original story:

A high school student was killed and three others were seriously injured this morning when a school bus crashed at the 610 South Loop and Telephone Road, according to HISD officials.The bus was heading to Furr High School and was also carrying students from REACH Charter High School, located at Furr. It's unclear which school the four students on the bus attended. 

The student who died was a female, but her name and age have not been released.

Police from HISD and the Houston Police Department are investigating the cause of the crash, which occurred at 7 a.m. Photos from the scene show a heavily damaged guardrail on the freeway overpass, and KTRK reports that witnesses saw the bus come "flying off the overpass."

KTRK also reports that "as of 8:30 a.m, Houston police officers shut down the westbound lanes of the South Loop to investigate the accident. There is heavy damage to the guardrail on the portion of the freeway that goes over Telephone Road. There is no timetable for when the freeway may reopen."

“We are deeply saddened by this tragedy and the loss of one of our students,” HISD Superintendent Terry Grier stated in a press release. “I ask all of the HISD community to join me in praying for all of those involved."

School board members met in closed session for about 90 minutes this morning to discuss the appointment of an interim superintendent after Grier's resignation last week. But Rhonda Skillern-Jones said when she called the meeting back to order that there would be no decision announced today out of "respect for the families" whose children were involved in the crash.

Trustee Juliet Stipeche echoed this, saying the board was sending its "condolences to the families."

Details are still trickling in, and we will update as soon as we learn more. 

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