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Bus driver in fatal Athens crash appears in court

Updated: Dec. 11, 2019 at 9:35 AM CST
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HENDERSON COUNTY, TEXAS (KLTV) - The bus driver involved in a fatal school bus crash in Athens appeared in court on Wednesday morning for a hearing.

John Stevens, 78, of Mabank was indicted in July on two separate charges of injury to a child causing serious bodily injury and manslaughter/criminally negligent homicide. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Stevens was the driver of an Athens ISD bus that collided with a Union Pacific train on Jan. 25. According to an investigation, the bus came to a stop before continuing onto the track, directly in front of a westbound Union Pacific train.

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.

Wednesday’s hearing concerned evidence collected by the state. Stevens’ attorneys said to their knowledge, they have been given all the evidence the prosecutors have. This includes police and accident reports of the crash. An attorney for Stevens would not comment on the specifics of the evidence shared.

Brian Schmidt, an attorney for Stevens, told him to “stay strong” as he left the courtroom.

“He’s doing okay. He’s a strong man. This is obviously a difficult circumstance for everybody involved,” Schmidt said.

Stevens’ next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 5.

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