Union Pacific: Train horn sounded for about 30 seconds before fatal crash

Investigation continues into school bus-train collision in Athens

Investigation continues into deadly Athens school bus crash

ATHENS, TX (KLTV) - The investigation continues into last week’s fatal crash involving a school bus and a train in Athens.

On Tuesday, Union Pacific said that onboard data shows the train’s engineer sounded the horn for about 30 seconds before the crash. Spokeswoman Kristen South says that’s about twice the amount of time required by the Federal Railroad Administration, which is 15 seconds before entering a railroad crossing.

According to South, the train was equipped with an outward facing camera and the footage will be turned over to police for use in the investigation. South said other information, like the train’s speed, will not be released until the final report is complete.

Athens police told KLTV on Tuesday that they anticipate they will wrap up their investigation next week and will forward the findings to the district attorney’s office. Police are working with both Union Pacific and Athens ISD on the investigation.

Christopher Bonilla, 13, was killed when the school bus was hit by a train near the Cream Level Road railroad crossing. According to police, the train and the bus came to a stop a quarter of a mile away from the initial collision at the Murchison Street crossing. According to police, there are no railroad crossing gates, bells, or lights at the intersection where the crash happened.

Funeral services for Bonilla will be held Friday at 11 a.m. at the Athens High School gymnasium. There will be no school at any campus that day. Any athletic events previously scheduled to be held at AHS on Friday will be rescheduled.

An Athens Central Elementary School student, 9-year-old Joselyne Torres, and the bus driver, 78-year-old John Stevens, of Mabank, were both injured in the crash. Torres was taken to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. She has since been moved from the ICU and is reported to be in stable condition. The bus driver, Stevens, is now recovering at home after being treated and released.

Athens ISD students celebrated the life of a student who died in a collision by decorating his seat on a bus. Christopher Bonilla, 13, was killed Jan. 25 when a train collided with a school bus he was riding in. (Source: Velda Jackson)
Athens ISD students celebrated the life of a student who died in a collision by decorating his seat on a bus. Christopher Bonilla, 13, was killed Jan. 25 when a train collided with a school bus he was riding in. (Source: Velda Jackson)

A different bus is now running the route formerly taken by Bus No. 46. Wednesday, students decorated Chris' spot with photographs, hand-written notes and stuffed animals.

Copyright 2019 KLTV. All rights reserved.