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St. Joseph athletes hurt in bus crash

By chirst
Oct. 13, 2012 at 5:13 a.m.
Updated Oct. 14, 2012 at 5:14 a.m.

The scene of a bus crash of members of the St. Joseph High School girls volleyball team. The team was traveling to Austin on Saturday morning when the school bus they were on crashed in Gonzales County.

TO READ ABOUT THE VIGIL AT ST. JOSEPH HIGH SCHOOL, CLICKHERE.

St. Joseph High School volleyball player Alana Del Bosque quickly fell asleep for another boring bus trip Saturday morning.

Del Bosque, a varsity sophomore, expected to wake up when they got to Austin for a district game.

Instead, she jerked awake about 8 a.m. when she slammed onto the roof of the bus as it rolled, at least once, after the driver lost control on U.S. Highway 183 North in Gonzales County.

"The bus was shaking, things were falling, people were falling on top of each other - no one knew what was going on," Alana said. "No one had control of themselves; everything was just falling everywhere."

None of the 28 students, three coaches or the driver was critically injured or killed. But 27 people - 23 of them students - were transported to area hospitals, said Department of Public Safety Trooper Chad Fritz.

Fritz said the driver, Clint Parks, 67, left the roadway on the right shoulder for an unknown reason, hitting a road sign at U.S. Highway 183 and Cheapside Road.

Parks then overcorrected to the left, into the southbound lane, and swerved again to avoid hitting an oncoming 18-wheeler. The bus went into a ditch, rolled at least once, and landed on its side.

Alana's mother, Sonia Del Bosque, was traveling with her husband behind the bus to watch the girls' game when she saw it crash.

"We were screaming in the car because we were horrified seeing that, and then pulled over as soon as the bus stopped. My husband ran out, ran to the back, and tried to get girls out. I called 911 right away," Del Bosque said.

Del Bosque said she feared the worst as she waited the countless minutes for Alana to emerge from the bus.

"It seemed like forever, but it probably wasn't that long. He was taking girls out of the back and calling for her, yelling for her, and she wasn't coming out, and I was starting to panic ... I kept seeing all of these other girls come out and mine was still in the bus," Del Bosque said.

Alana said it took her a little while to exit the bus because she blacked out after hitting her head on the roof.

"I just remember waking up and all of the windows were shattered and glass was everywhere and people were freaking out and trying to bust open the emergency windows," Alana said.

Alana, treated at Gonzales Memorial Hospital, has a sprained shoulder and a concussion.

"I ran to her and hugged her and she was crying," Del Bosque said. "She had blood on her but it wasn't from her, it was from other players. She had really bad head pain and she was disoriented and confused; she didn't remember coming out of the bus."

Another parent not following the bus said his panicked drive to Gonzales Memorial Hospital passed in a blur after he heard about the crash.

"I was thinking the worst; it was horrible," said Ronnie Kurtz, father of Lauren Kurtz, 16. "I just drove straight here, my foot on the pedal."

Kurtz arrived at Gonzales, he said, to find Lauren scraped, bruised and shaken up but all right.

Jane Parks, wife of the bus driver, said her husband has been driving buses for St. Joseph's extracurricular activities for about six years. Their granddaughter was on the bus.

"I was just thinking, 'Lord let them be all right,' and they are," Jane Parks said, standing outside the hospital, relieved after seeing her husband and granddaughter. "My granddaughter didn't even have a scratch."

Del Bosque said her car and the bus were traveling about 60 mph in a 70-mph zone.

Two of the girls and co-head coach Allyson Griffin were treated and released from Cuero Community Hospital, and four of the students and co-head coach Alvin Mumphord were treated and released from Yoakum Community Hospital, said St. Joseph Principal Bill McArdle.

Parks, 17 students, and freshmen coach Tori Escamilla were treated at Gonzales Memorial Hospital. Everyone was released from Memorial on Saturday, except for Parks, who was kept overnight for observation, McArdle said.

Five students were driven home by parents without going to a hospital, Fritz said.

"We are truly blessed that our guardian angel was watching over our young ladies," McArdle said at the crash site, tearing up as he looked at the wreckage.

McArdle said he was proud of the St. Joseph family, especially the football players, who left a morning practice to bring flowers to all the girls in the hospitals.

Jerry Vasquez, a senior football player, said it was a team decision to buy the pink roses and personally deliver them.

"We want to be there for each other. We are a family," Vasquez said, standing in the waiting room at Memorial with other football players.

Vasquez said he was in a panic when he first started getting text messages about the wreck.

"So many thoughts were going through our heads because these girls are like our sisters, and we didn't want anything to happen to them," he said.

Saturday's game against Hyde Park in Austin, the last district game in round one, was canceled, according to Mumphord.

Mumphord said the girls were in second place in round one of districts, and their next district game is currently scheduled for Thursday. He is not sure whether they will play Thursday or whether the game can be moved.

"Of course, we want to make sure our girls are OK," Mumphord said. "Monday, we will know something for sure."

The wreck remains under investigation.

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