PENWELL, Texas (KXAN/AP) — A county sheriff says 10 people are dead and five others have been hospitalized after a bus carrying state prisoners skidded off an icy highway overpass in West Texas, slid down an embankment and crashed with a train around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. Two correctional officers and eight inmates died in the wreck, and one staff member and four inmates were taken to Medical Center Hospital in Odessa for medical treatment.
“It’s with a heavy heart that we mourn the loss of those killed and injured this morning in a tragic accident,” said Brad Livingston, executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. “Their loved ones will be in our thoughts and prayers.”
Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson says the overpass on Interstate 20 was slick with ice Wednesday morning when the Texas Department of Criminal Justice bus left the road near Mile Marker 100. That’s between Penwell and Odessa; the exit for Penwell is at Mile Marker 101.
Donaldson says the bus hit a patch of ice as it was going over an overpass and apparently trying to slow down because of another accident that had already happened. The overpass was slick, and Donaldson says that’s when the bus went off the overpass and down the embankment. The overpass is above train tracks, and at the time, a train was going through. Donaldson says the bus hit the side of the train as it was moving.
Justice department spokesman Jason Clark says the bus was carrying 12 prisoners and three corrections officers. Clark says the bus was taking the prison inmates from the Middleton Unit in Abilene to another in El Paso, the Sanchez Unit. Authorities say only the driver had a seat belt, and the rest of the bus was not equipped with safety belts. The prisoners were handcuffed together in pairs.
Since the train is not for passengers, Donaldson says there were no deaths or injuries involving the train. Meanwhile, Donaldson says everyone has been accounted for, and the investigation is ongoing.
The TDCJ released the names of the deceased and injured on Wednesday evening:
- Christopher Davis is deceased. The 53-year-old had 205 months of service with the agency.
- Eligio Garcia is deceased. The 45-year-old had 275 months of service with the agency.
- Jason Self has been transferred to University Medical Center in Lubbock. He is in critical condition. The 38-year-old has 222 months of service with the agency.
- Byron Wilson, 34, deceased
- Tyler Townsend, 29, deceased
- Jesus Reyna, 44, deceased
- Kaleb Wise, 22, deceased
- Adolfo Ruiz, 32, deceased
- Michael Stewart, 35, deceased
- Angel Vasquez, 31, deceased
- Jeremiah Rodriguez, 35, deceased
- Terry Johnson, 22, is at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa. He is in critical condition.
- Remigio Pineda, 34, is at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa. He is in serious condition.
- Damien Rodriguez, 22, is Medical Center Hospital in Odessa. He is in critical condition.
- Hector Rivera, 37, is Medical Center Hospital in Odessa. He is in serious condition.