Two students were killed and three others seriously injured Tuesday when a school bus toppled from a highway overpass in Houston, Texas, after being hit by a car, authorities said. The victims of the accident have been identified by their families.
Investigators believe the car, which was driven by a Houston Independent School District (HISD) teacher, struck the front of the bus on the driver's side after moving to avoid another vehicle during the morning rush-hour traffic. The bus then lost control, moved to the right and struck a guardrail, toppling to the road below, police spokesman Victor Senties reportedly said. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident and authorities said it was too early to determine whether charges will be filed against anyone.
"We are deeply saddened by this tragedy," Superintendent Terry Grier said, in a statement. "I ask all of the HISD community to join me in praying for all of those involved."
The students were from the HISD, which is the largest public school system in Texas. The district confirmed that Mariya Alyss Johnson, 17, died at the scene, while Janecia Chatman, 14, died at a hospital, the Associated Press reported. The driver and other passengers on the bus were hospitalized, the district said, adding that the car driver was also injured. The two injured passengers were identified as siblings Brandon and Lakeshia Williams, both 17.
"The bus driver has been with HISD for about three years and has a clean driving record. Records show that the bus last underwent a maintenance inspection in July," HISD wrote in a statement.
The accident took place when the students were on their way to Furr High School in the district, which has about 950 buses on the road each day, transporting 34,000 students. The Furr High School community has created a fund to help families of the victims.
"The Furr family is reaching out to raise funds to help pay for funeral and medical expenses for these students. Please open your hearts to help these families," the school said, in a statement.
Investigators are trying to find surveillance cameras along the highway or near the scene of the crash, Senties said, adding that footage from the bus' security cameras is also being reviewed.
"The State of Texas mourns the loss of Texas students today in a tragedy no parent should ever have to experience," Gov. Greg Abbott reportedly said, in a statement.