A strong indication today that texting behind the wheel may have played a part in that deadly church bus crash in southwest Texas Wednesday afternoon, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Jody Kuchler, a welder from Real County, told 1200 WOAI News he was among the first on the scene of the wreck and he approached the driver of the pickup truck as he sat pinned inside the vehicle.
"When I went to check on him he looked at me and I said, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I was texting'," Kuckler told us this afternoon.. "I said to him, son, do you know what you just did? He repeated, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry'."
13 members of the First Baptist Church of New Braunfels, who were returning home from a senior citizens retreat were killed when police say a pickup driven by Jack Young, 20, crossed the center line and slammed head on into the bus. The Texas Department of Public Safety has confirmed that the truck crossing the center line was the cause of the accident, but they have not confirmed that texting was what prompted the driver to drift into the oncoming lane.
Kuchler says the scene at the wreck is something he won't forget for a long time.
"Not for a long time," he said. "I have worked all over the world and I have never in my life seen anything like this."
Kuchler says he also made the calls to 9-1-1 that police have confirmed receiving to report that the pickup was driving erratically.
He says the scene inside the church bus was quiet when he arrived on the scene.
"Nobody, none of the elderly people were crying, they weren't asking for help. I told them that help was on the way and they would just look at me."
12 of the 13 were dead when emergency crews arrived, and the 13th died after being airlifted to a hospital in San Antonio. Young also remains hospitalized.
First Baptist Church Senior Pastor Brad McLean says he has received support from all over the world in the wake of the tragedy, and the church is beginning a relief fund to help the families of those who were killed.
"People from as far as Norway and Germany have been moved by the Spirit of the Lord to contact our church and offer everything from kind words to financial support," McLean said. "Any funds we receive will go directly to the families impacted by this unfortunate tragedy."
Flags in Comal County have been ordered flown at half staff all weekend in member of the victims as the funerals get underway.