CONCAN, Texas (AP) — Federal officials on Thursday began an investigation into a head-on collision between a pickup truck and small church bus in southwest Texas that crumpled the front of the bus and killed 13 senior adults returning from a church retreat.
The Texas Department of Public Safety refused to speculate on the cause of the Wednesday afternoon crash outside Garner State Park, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) west of San Antonio, although one spokesman said the truck driver appeared to have crossed the center line.
The fronts of both vehicles were heavily damaged in the collision and the bus was backed up onto a guardrail, with glass and debris scattered around.
Twelve bus passengers and driver Murray William Barrett, 67, died at the scene, DPS Lt. Johnny Hernandez said. Another bus passenger died at a San Antonio hospital. The pickup driver, Jack Dillon Young, 20, of Leakey, Texas, was in stable condition and the lone survivor from the bus remained hospitalized in critical condition late Wednesday, DPS said.
“We are still grieving and we’re going to grieve for a while, and we will see what tomorrow looks like and then the next day,” Brad McLean, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of New Braunfels, Texas, told reporters Wednesday. “But we know this: We know the strength of the Lord is going to provide our next steps.”
Ten of the people killed in the wreck were from New Braunfels, according to DPS, and they ranged in age from 61 to 87.
Authorities said the vehicles collided about 12:25 p.m. on U.S. 83 near the town of Concan. At a briefing near the crash site Wednesday night, DPS Sgt. Orlando Moreno said the wreck occurred along a curve in the road where the speed limit is 65 mph.
“For reasons unknown the truck veered into the southbound lane and struck the bus head-on,” Moreno said.
Hernandez was more circumspect early Thursday, saying only that the collision remains under investigation.
The National Transportation Safety Board investigation is…