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HOUSTON -- The 51-year-old bus driver who crashed into a tree Tuesday while taking students to Paul Revere Middle School, told Houston police that the bus had an unexplained mechanical failure.

It was just after 8 a.m. in the 9500 block of Briar Forest when witnesses said they could not believe what they were seeing.

"You know the bus just kind of, in slow motion, hit the tree," one witness said.

The driver of the private school bus, operating as Nancy's Bus Service, told police there was a mechanical failure and the bus started mysteriously drifting to the left until it hit a tree.

More than a dozen people, including students, were placed on stretchers and taken to the hospital following a school bus crash in west Houston. KHOU

However several students said the driver seemed to have some kind of physical or medical issue moments before the crash.

"All I saw was like, her legs go up and fall," said student Evelyn Rodriguez.

"(I) saw her collapse," another student said.

"She fall down, then she just went to the tree and there's where it stopped," said student Melvin Zelaya.

Some students also reported that the driver had a phone in her hand. She went to a nearby hospital along with about 20 students who were headed to Paul Revere Middle School.

"Everybody was all scared, freaking out," one student said.

Good Samaritans at the scene assisted some of the children getting off the bus.

Authorities said that's not always the right thing to do.

"Unless it's a life-threatening incident, let us handle it because we have the necessary tools and training," said Kenyatta Parker of the Houston Fire Department.

Still, he expressed gratitude for all those who helped the young victims.

"We want to thank the citizens for assistance," he said.

The accident resulted in only minor injuries, authorities said.

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