Killeen Independent School District in Texas, located north of Austin, barely avoided a fatality on the first day of school, after a student was hit by a passing vehicle after exiting the school bus. But a day later, the district learned the school bus driver involved in the incident took his own life.
It all began on Monday, the first day of the new school year, when police officers were dispatched to Wales Drive in response to a crash involving a pedestrian. A preliminary investigation revealed that a 2008 Ford F150 was traveling northbound while a school bus was stopped facing the same direction on the side of the roadway.
The school bus driver, who was later identified as William “Bill” Jones, was unloading a middle school student at the south intersection of Wales Drive and Hilltop Loop. The student reportedly exited the school bus and then ran in front of the bus to cross the street westbound.
The pickup truck passed the school bus and struck the student, who was airlifted to McLane’s Children Hospital in Temple. The student remains in stable condition at this report, according to Killeen ISD. The district stated in a Facebook post on Monday that it was working with the Killeen Police Department to conduct the investigation.
“At this point, our primary concern is the well-being and recovery of the student,” the district stated at the time. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family. At last check, the student was in stable condition.”
Police later cited Jones, a 12-year veteran school bus driver of the district, with failing to activate the flashing warning signal lights and other equipment on the school bus, in violation of Texas Transportation Code 547.701c.
The school district terminated Jones the following day. That evening, police found Jones parked in his personal vehicle at a nearby lake with a gunshot wound to the chest, according to KCENTV.
Taina Maya, the chief communications and marking officer for Killeen ISD, told School Transportation News the investigation by the Bell County Sheriff’s Office stated Jones “passed due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was not shot by another individual,” she said.
“This situation remains a very unfortunate accident,” Maya added.
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All Killeen ISD transportation employees are being provided additional training on the proper ways to report emergencies and the importance of all precautionary light and signal protocols following the incident, according to the district’s Facebook page.
“As student safety is our utmost concern, we remind all drivers to be cautious as students have returned to in-person instruction,” Killeen ISD concluded.