Lawyers for former Athens ISD bus driver want to depose engineers involved in fatal crash
ATHENS, Texas (KLTV) - Lawyers for the former Athens ISD school bus driver charged in a fatal bus crash want to talk to the engineers of the train involved in the collision.
Attorneys for John Stevens, 78, of Mabank, filed an application with the court seeking to depose the two Union Pacific engineers who were controlling the train the day of the crash.
“We’ve been denied the ability to speak to the engineers, to interview them about the events before, during, and after,” said Justin Weiner, one of Stevens defense attorneys. “We felt it was very important to do that based on the information from the digital event recorder, or black box, showing the train was speeding in violation of the Athens municipal ordinance.”
The crash happened on Jan. 25, 2019, at the crossing on Cream Level Road. The bus had stopped before the crossing and then Stevens drove onto the track directly in front of the westbound train, according to investigators.
Weiner said they want to talk to the engineers because the engineers will be material witnesses in Stevens’ case.
“I think you can just take a look at it like any other case. If you’ve got an eyewitness to an offense, an alleged offense, you sure as heck would like to know what they have to say," Weiner said. “It’s vitally important to our defense.”
Stevens was indicted in July 2019 on two charges of injury to a child causing serious bodily injury and manslaughter/criminally negligent homicide. He’s pleaded not guilty to both charges.
Christopher Bonilla, a 13-year-old Athens Middle School student, was killed in the crash. Nine-year-old Joselyne Torres, a student from Central Athens Elementary, was injured when she was trapped inside the bus.
The next hearing is set for March 12. That’s when the judge is expected to announce whether Stevens’ attorneys will be allowed to depose the engineers.
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