HOUSTON— Some eighth grade students sprang into action Thursday after their school bus crashed into a building in north Houston. .
The charter bus was transporting 37 children to KIPP 3D Academy and KIPP Dream Prep when it crashed on West Hardy at Crosstimbers around 7:15 a.m., according to Houston police.
The bus driver suddenly lost control, jumped a curb and crashed into a building, leaving many banged-up students scrambling for a way to get off.
"My cousin was sitting next to me and I just saw him start bleeding and his window popped, so I just kicked the door open to make sure we all got off safely," said eighth grader Rebecca Sanchez.
"I was checking my homework, I felt a bump. After that we crashed," said Danny Ortega, a KIPP student. "I was kind of freaked out."
Ortega realized that he and the other students needed to get off the bus. Some of the students on board were as young as 5.
"I heard the little kids crying. I told everybody to get out from the back door of the bus," said the 8th grader. "I was panicking, I never heard the little kids crying like that, especially in a crash."
Ortega said he saw the bus driver bleeding and she appeared to be unconscious. He and another student, Francisco De La Cruz, carried the driver to safety.
Both 8th-graders were called heroes by the school community.
"I’m very proud, I never thought I would do anything like that," De La Cruz said.
A motorist traveling on West Hardy said he witnessed the crash.
"There was a vehicle that cut her off and she tried to avoid it, hit the curb and jumped into the building," said Efrain Campa. "I got out of my truck and rushed to the back to see if the kids were coming out and they just popped the door open and I was just helping them all get off the bus."
Campa said he didn’t think twice about rushing to help.
"My first parent’s instinct was to go help. Kids or no kids – go help," Campa said.
Another witness who spoke to the bus driver immediately following the crash said an erratic driver caused her to veer off the road.
"She said it was a black vehicle swerving in and out of traffic. When he caught in front of her, he clipped her and she tried to avoid him by moving away, and that’s how the bus went into the building," said Tangie Carter. Carter said while everyone else was focusing on the kids, she assisted the driver whose face was covered in blood. "She was pretty shaken up and busted up."
"I think it is just one of those accidents we just got to explore," said Chris Gonzales, KIPP’s director of public relations and marketing. "There was no reports of danger on the route or there were troubles with the road; no problems with the bus company or the driver. Honestly, they’ve been really great partners."
The bus is owned by a company called First Students.
All of the children were checked out by emergency personnel on the scene, and all of the injuries seemed minor. One child complained of back pain and was transported to Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital with a family member. He has since been released from the hospital.
The bus driver was transported to Lyndon B. Johnson hospital for treatment.
HISD sent a bus to pick up the other students and take them to school.