13 dead after Texas church bus crash

12 people killed in Texas church bus crash on March 29, 2017. (Provided Photo/KXAN)

CONCAN, Texas (KXAN) — Thirteen people are dead after a shuttle bus carrying members from First Baptist Chuch in New Braunfels collided head-on with a pickup truck on Highway 83 near Garner State Park Wednesday afternoon.

All 13 killed were on the church’s 14-passenger bus. The sole survivor of the crash on the bus is at a San Antonio hospital in critical condition. The pickup driver, the only occupant of the truck, survived the crash and is also at a San Antonio hospital.

The church members were coming back from a 3-day retreat at Alto Frio Baptist Encampment when they crashed. “The members who were on the bus have been a part of this church for a long time,” church member Nancy Lacey says. “And it’s just tragic for everybody involved.”

The senior pastor of the church, Brad McLean, said the adult choir group spent a few days at the retreat singing and enjoying time together, as well has having Bible study. “I know these individuals. They’d confessed Christ as Lord and savior of their life. We can rejoice in that, but the difficult part is family and friends who are left behind.”

Wednesday night, McLean said the church is waiting to identify the victims. “We’ve had a difficult night as a church family with the loss of people we love, people we care for, people we’ve sat beside in worship services and served with and laughed with,” he continued.

New Braunfels restaurants and members of the community have brought food to the church and other churches have come and prayed with the congregation at First Baptist.

The Department of Public Safety initially said 12 people were killed and three were injured. One of those injured later died at the hospital. It’s unclear if the church bus was equipped with seat belts or if the passengers were wearing them.

“It was a really gruesome scene,” said Rick Ballesteros of Uvalde during a phone interview with WOAI. Gov. Greg Abbott and First Lady Cecilia Abbott sent their condolences to the families of the victims.

All lanes of Highway 83 were closed between Garner State Park and Texas 127 in Concan, while investigators and crews worked at the crash site.

Garner State Park is approximately 88 miles west of San Antonio. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

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