ATHENS–A trial date is set for 78-year-old John Stevens for the 2019 school bus crash that left one child dead and another injured in Athens after a train collided with the bus.
The trial will take place Feb. 22, 2022 with Stevens facing charges of criminal negligent homicide and injury to a child.
On Jan. 25, 2019, Stevens was finishing his route with his final two passengers, 13-year-old Christopher Bonilla, who attended Athens Middle School and nine-year-old Joselyne Torres, who attended Athens Central Elementary.
The school bus from the Athens district attempted to cross Cream Level Road when it was hit by westbound Union Pacific freight train from Omaha, Neb. The train carried the bus near North Murchison Street, about a quarter mile from the Cream Level Road crossing, before finally coming to a stop.
Bonilla was ejected from the bus and pronounced dead the scene. Torres was rescued by Athens Police and CareFlight flew the child to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas in critical condition. Torres was eventually able to make a full recovery.
Stevens suffered minor injuries and was released later that night.
Henderson County Judge Scott McKee attempted to reach the attorney general numerous times after he did not appear for the last court date. The Office of the Attorney General responded the delay was due to a new, additional attorney general who started Sept. 1.
“It’s a ’19 case. Since this case, this tragic incident, we’ve had a new DA that had to step down for reasons that are appropriate. We’ve had a pandemic, government has shut our courts down. We had one prosecutor from the Attorney General’s office who disappeared on us and now have another, thank you sir for being here. So, I’m going to set this for trial, so we have a date to shoot for,” Judge Scott McKee said.