One year later: Family still struggling after tragic bus crash in southeast Houston

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Houston family still struggling one year after tragic bus crash. (KTRK)

There is no marker beside Telephone Road and the 610 loop, where one year ago, an HISD school bus plunged from an overpass. The bus went crashing through a concrete barrier after it was hit by a car. There is however, a large collection of stuffed animals and artificial flowers, a sign that the pain from the lives of two students lost that day still lingers.

Janecia Chatman, 14, and Mariya Johnson, 17, both died at the scene. Twins Lakeshia and Brandon Williams were critically injured, but survived.

Their road to recovery has not been easy.

"I was in the hospital for more than a month," said Lakeshia. "I didn't start classes again until this spring."

She graduated but still has the scars of that day, both physically and emotionally.

ORIGINAL STORY: Two students dead after school bus crashes in SE Houston
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Janecia Chatman, 14, died at Memorial Hermann. Brandon and Lakeshia Williams, 17-year-old siblings, were injured in the accident.

"I lost my two friends," she said in a soft voice. "One of them was like my sister."

Her mother, Ella Williams, said she cannot get the images of her children in the hospital out of her mind.

"My daughter had tubes in her," she recalled.

Williams works in food services at a hospital in the medical center.

"Sometimes when I would see patients like that, I would start the cry because it reminded me of what my children went through," she said.

The crash also triggered a series of events that nearly left Williams and her recovering children homeless. She had to miss work to visit and help care for her children. She is grateful she was able to keep her job, but she wasn't able to keep up with her rent. She and the twins stayed in hotels for a time. Last week, she and Lakeshia moved to the Star of Hope Women's Shelter.

"I don't want people to think I'm doing this to get sympathy," she said. "It's just that after last year, there seemed to be barrier, after barrier, after barrier."

She is proud that her daughter wants to go to college.

"Education is everything," said Williams. "And even after this Lakeshia graduated early."

An administrator at Star of Hope is working to ensure the 18-year-old, who dreams of being a doctor one day, will start classes at HCC this month.

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The daughter of a bus driver who was involved in a deadly accident this morning says that her mother is in good condition.

Williams is still working, and plans to save her money so she and her children can eventually move into an apartment.

She also has another priority. There were lap belts on the bus that crashed, but her children weren't wearing them. The recommended safety standard is what's called a three-point safety belt, which is what most newer model cars have.

"I want to be an advocate for seat belts on school buses," Williams said. "So this won't happen to someone else's child."

Her daughter agreed.
Related Topics:
newsbus crashchildren injurieschild deathaccidentHouston
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