Senior home taking extra precautions after fatal church bus crash

VICTORIA- Wednesday marks one week since the First Baptist Church of New Braunfels encountered a terrible accident.

“It’s a tremendous loss for a church to lose 13 members in one experience,” said Sr. Pastor Jim Shamburger, First Baptist Church. “We’ve been praying for them.”

The small church bus was carrying 14 elderly members back from a retreat at the time the collision occurred on U.S. 83 in Uvalde County.

“We’re hoping for the families that they can make it through it and be strengthen in this time,” said Sr. Pastor Darrell Tomasek, Northside Baptist Church.

A pick up trunk belonging to 20-year-old Jack Young veered into the oncoming lane and collided head on with the bus. It has not been determined what caused the other driver to cross into the other lane. Only Young and one other passenger inside the bus survived. The NTSB says all passengers inside the church bus were wearing seat belts.

“The bus were only equipped with lap belts,” said Jennifer Morrison, National Transportation Safety Board.

Since the incident, Caryl Todd of Victoria’s Vitality Court has carefully considered her passengers, all senior citizens, safety.

“It’s really about the safety of them in that bus,” said Todd, Engagement Dir.

Officials say the bus involved in the accident was a 2004 Turtle Top. The bus Todd drives her seniors in is also a Turtle Top. According to Turtle Top‘s website, many churches and other groups use the buses. The website says the buses serve as a “great alternative to the standard 15-passenger van.”

Safety concerns have long surrounded the buses, with advocates saying they can be difficult to control in an emergency. but Todd says Vitality Court does their best to guarantee safety while on board and prepare for the unexpected.

“We do go through training,” said Todd. “There is a couple of hours of tapes we watch and then after that we are graded and we really look out for each other in what we do.”