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Sunday 24 September 2017

Thirteen killed as church minibus collides with pick-up truck

A still image of aerial video is shown of an accident scene involving a Texas church bus carrying senior citizens which crashed head-on with another vehicle about 80 miles (130 km) west of San Antonio, Texas, U.S., March 29, 2017. Courtesy WOAI/KABB/Handout via REUTERS
A still image of aerial video is shown of an accident scene involving a Texas church bus carrying senior citizens which crashed head-on with another vehicle about 80 miles (130 km) west of San Antonio, Texas, U.S., March 29, 2017. Courtesy WOAI/KABB/Handout via REUTERS
Marilee White, left, with sister Jaime White react outside First Baptist Church in New Braunfels, Texas, after several people who attended the church died in a two vehicle collision Wednesday, March 29, 2017. (Tom Reel/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

A shuttle bus carrying church members home from a retreat has collided head-on with a pick-up truck in south-western Texas, killing 13 people and injuring two others, officials said.

All of the victims who died were senior adults who attended First Baptist Church of New Braunfels, Texas.

A total of 14 seniors were on the bus and the driver was the only person in the pick-up when the vehicles collided on US 83 outside Garner State Park in northern Uvalde County, according to Texas Department of Public Safety Sergeant Conrad Hein and a church statement.

DPS Lieutenant Johnny Hernandez said the bus driver and 11 passengers died at the scene of the crash and another passenger died later at a hospital in San Antonio, 75 miles away.

Mr Hernandez said the lone survivor from the bus is in critical condition, while the pick-up driver is stable.

It is not yet clear what caused the collision about 120 miles from the church. The National Transportation Safety Board has sent investigators to the scene, spokesman Terry Williams said.

Photos and video of the aftermath showed heavy damage to the front drivers' sides of both vehicles. The back of the bus was up on a guardrail, with glass and debris scattered on to the grass below.

Sgt Hein said the minibus was a 2004 Turtle Top, which makes buses with capacities ranging from 17 to 51 passengers.

Church officials said in a statement on the First Baptist website that the members were returning from a three-day retreat at the Alto Frio Baptist Encampment in Leakey, about nine miles north of where the crash happened.

The church officials were "ministering to family members to help them deal with this tragedy", according to the statement. Counsellors are scheduled to be available on Thursday at the church.

Texas governor Greg Abbott and his wife Cecilia offered their condolences after the crash.

"We are saddened by the loss of life and our hearts go out to all those affected," their statement said.

"We thank the first responders working on the scene in the wake of this unimaginable tragedy, and ask that all Texans join us in offering their thoughts and prayers."

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