Band director among injured in Channelview HS bus crash

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Channelview high school band director among injured in bus crash

It was a reunion by phone for Channelview mother Francis Dodsen-Benson and her son after a terrifying end to her son's high school band trip.

"Hi! I'm alive!" said 15-year-old DeWayne Benson after calling his mother from an Alabama hospital.

He was one of 40 students on a charter bus crash around 5:30 a.m. Tuesday on I-10 near the Alabama and Florida state line.

Channelview ISD Superintendent Greg Ollis says the district hired two buses from First Class Tours to take a group of band students, chaperones and staff to Disney World for a performance and some fun.

It was on their trip home when Benson heard panic on the bus.

"I woke up and the band director, he was not driving, he was at the front and he was screaming, 'Harry, Harry, Harry,'" Benson explained.

Eyewitness News confirmed the driver on the bus was Harry Caligone. He was killed in the crash.

Benson described a chaotic scene as first responders had to rappel down to the crash site in a ravine.

"Some were on top of other students and there's a lot of panicking to get people out," Benson said.

Channelview ISD said six people were taken to the hospital with serious injuries, including the band director, Aaron Allison.

His wife Erin Allison spoke to Eyewitness News by phone during her drive to Pensacola.

Allison said she didn't know much about her husband's injuries, only that he was listed in critical condition.

Based on the seriousness of the crash, Ollis says they are blessed the injuries to the Channelview passengers were not worse.

"It looks like all of our students and staff are going to be alright," Ollis said.

After being sent to 10 different hospitals, Ollis says the students and staff are now in two hospitals in Florida and Alabama.

"Right now we are working with the airlines to possibly get some of the airline carriers to bring students back. I will be honest with you, we have some students and we talked to them, the ones in Pensacola, they didn't want to ride back in a car," Ollis said.

The second bus, not involved in the crash, made it safely back to the high school this afternoon where counselors and ministers were on hand to help students.

Parents like Francis Dodsen-Benson still want answers.

"We have a lot of questions, unanswered questions in regards to the driver and what was the situation that triggered an accident like this," Benson said.
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bus crashu.s. & worlddriver killedAlabamaChannelview
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