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SUV driver caught after running away from school bus wreck along U.S. Highway 96 south of Buna Wednesday morning

The bus driver and none of her four students, ages 5 through 12, were injured.

BUNA, Texas — Deputies and troopers in Jasper County have caught an 18-year-old Buna man they say struck the rear of a Buna school bus and then ran away Wednesday morning.

Dalton Blankenship, 18, of Buna, who troopers say struck the bus while driving a 2001 GMC SUV and then ran away on foot, was caught at around 9 a.m. and was taken to the Jasper County jail according to Texas Department of Public Safety Lt. Chuck Havard.

Blankenship, who ran from the wreck at about 6:35 a.m., is expected to be charged with failing to stop and render aid after a wreck causing serious bodily injury troopers said. The charge is a felony.

A 49-year-old Buna woman, who was a passenger in the SUV was taken to a Southeast Texas hospital by ambulance with life-threatening injuries according to Jasper County deputies and a  news release from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Preliminary investigation shows the SUV was traveling behind the bus headed south along U.S. 96 in the outside lane near County Road 721 when the bus driver activated the bus's yellow caution lights and began to slow down troopers said.

Blankenship did not control his speed and struck the rear of the bus and then ran away on foot according to troopers.

Damage to the GMC SUV appeared to be major.

The driver of the school bus and her four young passengers were not injured troopers said.

Her passengers included a 5-year-old, an 8-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 12-year-old. 

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Anyone with information about the wreck or the location of the driver of the SUV is asked to call Lufkin DPS Communications at 936-699-7340.

This is a developing story. We will update with more if and when we receive more confirmed information.

Credit: 12News

Read the full release from the Texas Department of Public Safety...

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Troopers are investigating a crash involving a school bus on U.S. Highway 96, south of Buna, that occurred this morning, September 21, 2022. 

The preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 6:35 a.m., a Buna school bus was traveling south in the outside lane, followed by a 2001 GMC SUV. It is reported that the school bus activated its yellow emergency lights and began to slow down when the driver of the SUV failed to control their speed and struck the rear of the school bus. The driver of the SUV then fled the scene on foot and has not been located.

The driver of the school bus and four child passengers were not injured. The driver of the school bus is identified as Sherry Leatherwood of Buna. 

Her passengers included a 5-year-old, an 8-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 12-year-old.

The driver of the SUV remains at large. The passenger was transported to St. Elizabeth Hospital for treatment with life-threatening injuries. Their identification is not immediately available.

If you have any information relating to this crash, contact Lufkin DPS Communications at 936-699-7340.

This is an ongoing investigation and there is no additional information available at this time.

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