MESQUITE, Texas — After the death of one of their own students, faculty and staff stood outside of Dr. James P. Terry Middle School early Thursday morning in Mesquite.
They were there to greet and embrace students after a fiery bus crash left 12-year-old Jazmine Alfaro dead and injured several others.
According to a crash report, Alfaro became trapped in a bus that was carrying students home after school Wednesday afternoon when it toppled onto its side and caught fire.
In the officer's crash report, a witness who was behind the bus said he saw the rear passenger side of the bus leave the road, spurring the driver, identified as 67-year-old John Johnson, to steer left, which put the bus in front of oncoming traffic. The witness said the driver then steered back to the right, which sent the bus off the road, hitting a utility pole and flipping onto its side.
A power supply line fell onto the bus when the utility pole was struck, which sparked a fire.
41 students, including Jazmine's sister, escaped. Alfaro remained trapped inside.
Aerial images of the crash site showed smoke coming from the charred bus and the rear emergency door open.
"Kids were crying and stuff, they were trying to make it out," said Ramona Mitchell, 11, a Terry Middle School sixth-grader who was on the bus. "I was struggling because I was scared that I would catch on fire."
Mitchell said her seatbelt made it difficult to escape the bus at first, but her seatmate helped her out.
Three children were taken to the hospital with injuries after the crash near Interstate 20 and Lawson Road in the Woodland Park area of southern Mesquite. Thirty-seven others on board were reunited with their parents at the middle school.
Kimberly Colchado, an eighth-grade student who was a passenger on the bus, said she was among those taken to the hospital with bruises and scratches on her body. She received stitches on her ear.
Colchado said the young girl who died in the crash was sitting on the same row as her on the left side of the bus.
“Emotionally, I just feel bad for the family," she said. "... I thank God that I am actually still here. Injured, but I’m here.”
WFAA learned that the stretch of road the accident happened on saw at least 25 crashes in the last 8 years, and of those 25 crashes--two were rollover crashes.
Three Mesquite police officers were hospitalized for smoke inhalation after rescuing students from the burning bus, said a police spokesman.
A moment of silence will be held Friday night at two high school varsity football games: NMHS vs Tyler Lee at Memorial Stadium and JHHS vs Rockwall at Hanby Stadium.
A GoFundMe has also been set up to help pay for Alfaro's funeral expenses.
If you'd like to help, click here.