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78-year-old driver pleads not guilty in connection with fatal Athens ISD bus crash

The wreck occurred on Friday, January 25, around 4 p.m. on Cream Level Road.
Credit: KYTX CBS19 viewer

ATHENS, Texas — The 78-year-old bus driver who was behind the wheel of an Athens Independent School District bus that was hit by a train resulting in the death of a student has pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him.

According to CBS19's LaDyrian Cole, John Stevens has been charged with criminally negligent homicide and injury to a child in the connection with the January 2019, fatal crash.

The wreck occurred on Friday, January 25, around 4 p.m. on Cream Level Road.

According to an investigation by the Federal Railroad Administration, the Union Pacific crew reported the bus did stop at the railroad crossing. However, Stevens continued across the tracks and and the school bus was struck by the locomotive. A previous report by Union Pacific said the train's horn blasted in the moments before impact.

Christopher Bonilla, 13, died as a result of the crash. Joselyne Torres, 9, was seriously injured, but has since recovered.he recovered and has since been released.

The FRA concluded Stevens' "inattentiveness" caused the collision. The train was traveling at about 40 miles per hour, carrying 54 cars weighing nearly 5,000 tons when it t-boned the bus.

Stevens is due back in court on September 12.

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