One school bus driver back at work, one recovering after crash - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

One school bus driver back at work, one recovering after crash

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ATHENS, TX (KLTV) -

One school bus driver is already back on the road, while the other continues to recover from a two-bus collision that sent 81 people to the hospital on Wednesday.

79 children and two bus drivers were involved in the crash, which happened around 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Athens.

"My niece called me and she said 'Aunt Ann, I think Leila... I think your daughter was in a wreck,'" parent Ann Coleman said.

Coleman said the moments immediately after that call are all a blur.

"I was scared, I was crying, I was panicking," Coleman recalled.

Coleman immediately rushed from her home to the hospital, where she found her 8-year-old daughter, Leila, injured, holding the hand of a teacher.

"The teacher was holding her tight until I got there, because she was screaming for her momma," Coleman said.

8-year-old Leila was sitting near the front of the first bus at the time of the crash. She suffered a fractured collar bone and some bumps and bruises on her knees, after slamming into the seat in front of her.

Coleman and her daughter spent three hours in the emergency room, which was flooded with 81 victims and only 25 beds.

"Where we could, we put them in chairs and we put stretchers and chairs at the back of the emergency room so we could treat them," said ETMC Athens Emergency Room director Sherri Miller.

Parents leaving the hospital Wednesday night were told by their kids who were on the bus that the driver had turned around, telling the kids to "be quiet." They said by the time she turned back around, it was too late and she slammed into the school bus in front of her.

However, at this time, officials said they do not know the cause of the incident, but neither driver is facing any disciplinary action from the district.

"We could in the future, but at this point we have nothing to base that on," said Athens ISD Superintendent Blake Stiles."

Either way, Coleman believes the district could have done a better job responding to the crash.

"It's disappointing that they didn't call," she said. "They should've called ten minutes later and let us know that there was a problem right then."

Athens ISD said they did the best they could.

"This is the first time we've had a situation like this," Stiles said. "Some parents we were working on harder to get in touch with than others, but this district contacted them as soon as possible."

For now, Coleman said she will not be sending her daughter on the bus once she returns to school.

Athens police said neither bus driver has been issued a citation at this time, as the incident is still under investigation.

Athens ISD said the school district will cover medical costs for all the children involved in the crash through their insurance plan.

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