Witness account highlights dangers of texting while driving

DPS identified him as 67-year-old Murray William Barrett of New Braunfels, a San Antonio suburb.

A Texas state trooper says 12 people were killed in a crash between a church van and a pickup truck on a two-lane highway in southwestern Texas.

The driver of a pickup truck that collided with a church minibus in rural Texas, killing 13 people, apologized after the crash and acknowledged he had been texting while driving, a witness said Friday.

Kuchler first shared the account of what happened with the San Antonio Express-News. Deputies were dispatched, but Rodriguez says the same person called back less than 30 minutes later to say the truck crashed.

Uvalde County deputies were dispatched on the call, he said, but as the truck approached Real County territory, he called authorities there and was told, "That's not Real County".

"Unfortunately, he struck a motor vehicle before anyone could respond", he said.

But they say the speed limit along the stretch of road where the wreck occurred is 65 miles per hour (104 kph).

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending investigators to the crash scene.

Federal investigators will look at many factors - the drivers of both vehicles, any impairments, distraction or fatigue, the mechanical conditions of both vehicles and the survivability and crashworthiness of the converted van, as well as road conditions.

The bus occupants ranged in age from 61 to 87. Kelley Adamson, president and owner of A&M Forensics and Engineering, Inc., a company that deploys traffic accident reconstruction specialists, told the Express-News that even if they were all correctly strapped in, such seatbelts are not always effective at speeds over 35 miles per hour (56 kph).

The fronts of the church bus and the pickup were heavily damaged in the wreck.

"In a head-on collision like this, it's basically equivalent to the vehicle hitting a brick wall", Adamson said.

He said older people are particularly vulnerable in high-impact collisions.

Twelve people died at the scene and another bus passenger died at a San Antonio hospital, authorities said.

Two of the victims were transported to University Hospital in San Antonio for treatment after the crash, according to a spokesperson for the hospital.

DPS Sgt. Conrad Hein said the small bus was a 2004 Turtle Top, though he did not know the specific model.

Authorities in two Texas counties say they received phone calls about a white pickup truck swerving along the roadway shortly before a head-on collision between a church bus and a pickup killed 13 people.

"We are ministering to family members to help them deal with this tragedy".

"With heavy hearts our thoughts and prayers are with the victims' families and First Baptist Church of New Braunfels church family in the grieving of the tragic accident that occurred Wednesday afternoon", Alto Rio Baptist Encampment said in a statement.The church canceled events, but members gathered inside Wednesday night.

The accident was one of the deadliest in recent memory in Texas, Lt. Johnny Hernandez, a spokesperson for the state's Department of Public Safety, told BuzzFeed News.

  • Leroy Wright