7-year-old tells only ABC13 about surviving church bus crash in east Harris County

Brooke Taylor Image
Tuesday, December 13, 2022
7-year-old recovering from graphic injuries after church bus crash
Two sisters are recovering after surviving a bus crash after a service at Mount Zion Baptist Church in east Harris County.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- One child is still in the hospital after a church bus carrying 16 people flipped over in east Harris County Sunday afternoon.

Seven-year-old Jazzylnne has a large gash on her forehead with staples and stitches after she slammed into the bus window and the ground.

"It upsets me because this could have all been prevented," her mother, Sasha Graham, said. "It's wrong. She is working. She's not going to look the same. She doesn't want to go to church anymore. It impacts them."

Jazzylnne takes the bus home from church with her 10-year-old sister, Jada, every Wednesday and Thursday.

The bus was coming from Mount Zion Baptist Church, and according to the pastor, the drivers are volunteers who help people get to and from the services.

According to the Harris County Sheriff's Office, as the driver was dropping people off near an apartment complex at 90 Uvalde Road, he failed to control speed while negotiating the curve, causing the bus to roll on its side.

The speed limit was 30 mph, and witnesses told investigators the driver was going about 50 mph, according to HCSO Lt. Simon Cheng.

All 12 children, ranging from 1 to 16 years old, and three adult passengers onboard were taken to the hospital, according to deputies.

One child is still in the hospital in stable condition, and 15 others, including the driver, are recovering at home.

Jazzylnne and Jada told Eyewitness News they remembered the driver speeding before the bus flipped.

"Someone grabbed me, and I went and grabbed my sister, and they pulled me out," Jazzylnne said.

Jada's arm was stuck through the window, and Jazzylnne said that was all she could think about while she was transported to the hospital.

"(Jazzylnne) told me, 'I love you,'" Jada recalled.

Both sisters are back at home recovering, but their mother wants the driver to be held accountable.

"What if she couldn't come home?" Graham asked. "They almost thought she had a broken neck. That would have changed their whole life."

The 42-year-old driver has not been charged. However, according to Cheng, the driver will most likely face a reckless driving charge, a class B misdemeanor criminal charge. Deputies said they are trying to pinpoint the best provable speed.

"Let's say someone reported he was speeding. We know it meets the sped-over-limit offense," Cheng said. "We want to present a better case to the District Attorney's Office and file the highest charge we can. We don't want to jump the gun. With the corroboration from witnesses, knowing the speed based on the evidence, the speed limit in the area, and articulating how reckless the movement of the vehicle was in that area will all lend toward a better reckless driving charge."

Deputies will be looking into whether the bus had a data recorder and analyzing evidence like the tire marks when determining the speed.

According to deputies, the driver does not have any history of traffic citations or previous driving-related charges.

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SEE ORIGINAL REPORT: A dozen children hospitalized after church bus overturned in east Harris County, sheriff says

According to HCSO, three adult passengers and 12 children were on board, ranging from ages 1 to 16.