Bus driver in fatal Athens crash pleads not guilty

East Texas News at 6.
Updated: Jul. 3, 2019 at 9:20 AM CDT
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HENDERSON COUNTY, TEXAS (KLTV) - The driver involved in a January fatal school bus crash in Athens has pleaded not guilty during an arraignment.

John Stevens, 78, of Mabank appeared in a Henderson County courtroom on July 3. Stevens has been indicted on two separates charges of injury to a child causing serious bodily injury and manslaughter/criminally negligent homicide.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Stevens was driving a bus that was southbound on Cream Level Road as it approached the railroad crossing. The bus came to a stop, according to the investigation, but then continued across the tracks, directly in front of the westbound Union Pacific train.

The bus was impacted on its left side and became lodged on the locomotive. The train and bus then traveled approximately one quarter of a mile down the track before coming to a stop at the Murchison Street crossing.

Christopher Bonilla, a 13-year-old Athens Middle School student, was killed in the crash. A student from Central Athens Elementary, 9-year-old Joselyne Torres, was also injured when she was trapped inside the bus.

Although no automated arms or warning lights were in place at the Cream Level Road location, the crossing was posted with crossbuck and yield signs.

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