ATHENS, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Students and faculty returned to Athens Middle School Monday in mourning after the death of a 13-year-old student on Friday in a school bus crash.
“It is with great sorrow that I must share news of a terrible tragedy that took place Friday afternoon. In all my years in education, I have never had a more difficult task than to share the news that we have lost one of our middle school students in a bus accident,” said Athens ISD Superintendent Blake Stiles
Those words of heartbreak were sent to parents and their children on Saturday after the tragic crash.
According to authorities, an Athens ISD bus was crossing railroad tracks when it was struck by an oncoming train near Cream Level Road.
Athens Middle School student Christopher Bonilla was pronounced dead at the scene, and a nine-year-old girl, Joselyne Torres, was critically injured. The bus driver, 78-year-old John Stevens, was treated for minor injuries and was released from the hospital.
In an update Saturday afternoon, police said Torres is in stable condition after having surgery. The school district confirmed Bonilla and Torres were cousins.
On Monday, students and faculty wore clothing colored in maroon to honor Bonilla and also wrote messages on windows to remember him.
Students could be seen walking into the school building dressed in maroon shirts and jackets.
“You will always be remembered, Chris! We love you!” read one message on a glass window at the entrance of the school. “#FlyHigh, we love and miss you lots,” read another.
One student was also seen walking into the school wearing a maroon shirt and holding flowers.