LHISD bus driver cited after fiery accident


By Christian Betancourt

Officials with the Williamson County Sheriff’s office say a Liberty Hill bus driver was cited after a fiery accident Wednesday.

Lt. Craig Gripentrog said the bus driver was cited with failure to yield the right of way from a stop sign. He added there were no major injuries.

LHISD Superintendent Steve Snell said the district is investigating the incident from video footage from the bus.

“The bus was empty,” said Snell. “The driver was turning left from the Lively Ranch neighborhood onto (State Highway) 29. He waited for quite a while until he thought he had a safe window to cross. You can see on our video that he was able to clear that intersection, get to the middle (turn lane) and then merge onto the westbound traffic. There was a car on the outside lane that stopped quickly, thankfully, and then the car behind it rear-ended them. That’s all I know because I haven’t seen the police report yet.”

Lively Ranch resident Misti Scales was behind the bus waiting to cross the same intersection and saw the events leading up to the crash.

“We were both at the stop sign from the neighborhood,” she said. “He was going to cross to the left, over Highway 29 going back towards Liberty Hill, and he pulled out right in front of several cars. As soon as he pulled out, there was a black truck and an expedition following behind him. The truck slammed on his brakes to not hit the school bus, and the expedition hit the truck.”

Scales said she saw the SUV catch fire and stopped to render help to the driver and the three children who were in the vehicle.

“They were young,” she said. “They’re all elementary age or younger. As soon as we got the children out of the car, another lady came and helped with the children so I could get my car out of the way because the fire was coming towards my car. One of the little kiddos did have an injury. She was bleeding in her mouth somewhere, but I didn’t see anything on anybody else.”

Snell said the district is still determining the facts of the incident and would not reveal the driver’s identity.

“(Consequences) can vary depending on the circumstances,” he said. “It could be additional training is provided to make sure it doesn’t happen again, or it could be disciplinary action. Once the police report is finalized, we will take the appropriate actions. It doesn’t excuse the situation at all, but the driver involved in this particular accident has a very clean driving record and has been an exemplary driver for us. We’re going to evaluate what happened and see how we can support and what actions need to be taken.”

In a news release provided to The Independent Friday, Snell wrote that “all LHISD bus drivers undergo training to ensure safe transportation of students. Providing a safe and secure environment, whether in the classroom or on the school bus, is a top priority for our Panther Family.”