A bus owned by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice was carrying 15 passengers on the morning of Wednesday, January 14, 2015 when the driver lost control of the vehicle on an icy road, causing the bus to smash into a train, killing 10 people on board. Two correctional officers died in the collision, and eight prisoners also lost their lives. The remaining five people on board sustained injuries of varying degrees of severity following the crash. Two engineers were on board the freight train at the time of the accident, but neither of them reported any injury. Injured parties are reportedly being evaluated and treated at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa.
The train was a Union Pacific freighter, and was in motion at the time the bus slammed into it. The bus was allegedly traveling along Interstate 20 when it skidded on the icy roadway, then careened off an overpass, crashing into the train below. The bus was traveling on a journey of several hundred miles, en route from a correctional facility in Abilene to a different facility in El Paso at the time the accident took place.
The prisoners were traveling without seatbelts and handcuffed together, two to a seat. Some of the people on the bus at the time of the accident, including the decedents, flew out of the windows of the bus upon impact. The only seat on the bus equipped with seatbelts was the driver’s seat. The bus was considered to be in good working mechanical condition at the time of the accident, with officials reporting that it was brand new and had been in use for less than a year.
The bus was a total loss, with its top entirely smashed in following the crash. The train remained halted for some hours following the crash, with one train car badly dented and debris—mostly packages from United Parcel Service—surrounding the crash site. The National Transportation Safety Board has enlisted an investigation team to come out to evaluate the scene of the crash.