Tragic start to Labor Day weekend

September 4, 2009 9:04:18 PM PDT
Friday was a dangerous day for children going home for the Labor Day weekend. One is dead after he was hit by a school bus full of children. Three others teenagers were hurt in a separate crash. The accidents happened within hours of each other Friday afternoon. The holiday weekend had barely started and already students in two school districts were victims. In Willis, an accident involving a school bus took one life. And on Ticonderoga in northeast Harris County, three teens were seriously hurt.

"They were my closest friends," said Omar Gonzales, of the teens hurt in the accident in northeast Harris County.

Gonzales usually walks with the boys after school. But on Friday, he was lagging behind and it could have saved his life.

Harris County accident investigators say the boys were walking home from C.E. King High School when a pickup truck struck them. One flew over the truck and another was pinned underneath. A third just fell down. Investigators say the driver was distracted.

"He said he had something had rolled off the center console down near his feet and he was trying to get that while he was driving and he looked down to see where he was," said Deputy Phil Lillibridge with the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

The driver did pass a field sobriety test. That investigation is ongoing.

Meanwhile in Willis, school had just let out Friday. A high school student had the passenger door of a pickup truck open and was reaching for something at the intersection of Highway 75 and FM 830 when the driver, his friend, hit the gas and accidentally threw him out. Within seconds, a school bus full of students struck and killed him. Willis ISD officials say the driver never saw the teen.

On Tuesday, grief counselors will be on hand at Willis ISD to talk to students. There's no word from DPS on whether or not the driver of the pickup will face charges.

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