According to West Texas authorities, a bus transporting state prisoners slid off a highway overpass, down an embankment and finally crashed into a freight train, resulting in the deaths of at least 10 passengers.
The prison bus, which was carrying 12 male inmates and three male corrections officers from a prison in Abilene to another in El Paso, was driving on Interstate 20 west of Odessa when the incident occurred at about 7:30 a.m. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s executive director Brad Livingston confirmed that two corrections officers and eight prisoners were killed in the horrific accident. The four survivors are in critical condition and have since been admitted into the Medical Center Hospital in the nearby town of Odessa.
“It’s with a heavy heart that we mourn the loss of those killed and injured this morning in a tragic accident,” Livingston said. “Their loved ones will be in our thoughts and prayers.”
With temperatures near freezing, the overpass had become slick and icy from the sprinkling rain when the bus skidded off the road, Sherriff Mark Donaldson said. An investigation team from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was sent to the scene of the prison bus crash to try and learn more about what exactly took place.
Only two people were aboard the train during the impact – the conductor and an engineer. Neither man was injured in the accident. Although two containers near the back of the train were damaged as a result of the bus crash, none of the cars derailed, railroad spokesman Mark Davis said. The prison bus, on the other hand, received substantial damage from the event. It was found on its side, lying along the railroad tracks.
“It’s as bad as you can imagine,” Kavin Tinney, a battalion chief, told The Odessa American newspaper. “In 32, years it’s as bad as anything I’ve ever seen.”
Many faces of the political scene in Texas have released statements in regards to prison bus crash, offering condolences to the victims’ families, such as State Rep. Tan Parker, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and governor-elect Gregg Abbott, who is set to be inaugurated next week.
Back in June of 2014, a similar situation occurred in Central Texas when a Department of Criminal Justice van collided with a car, resulting in one inmate’s death and several others injured.