Fatalities confirmed in crash involving church bus in Texas

CONCAN, TX (AP) –Twelve people were killed and three others were injured Wednesday when a van carrying 14 church members and a pickup truck collided on a two-lane Texas highway, authorities said.

The group of senior adults from First Baptist Church of New Braunfels, Texas, was returning from a retreat when the crash occurred, a church statement said. The vehicles collided about 12:30 p.m. on U.S. 83 outside Garner State Park in northern Uvalde County, said Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Conrad Hein. The area is about 75 miles (120.7 km) west of San Antonio.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the lone person in the pickup truck was among the victims killed or how many of the church members are among the dead, Hein said. The cause of the crash also hasn’t been determined, he said.

Photos and video of the scene showed heavy damage to the front drivers’ sides of the small white church van and the pickup truck. The vehicles appeared to have collided on those sides of the vehicles.

The back of the bus was up on a guardrail and debris was scattered onto the grass below.

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 9 miles (14.5 km) 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. Counselors also were scheduled to be available at the church on Thursday.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and his wife, Cecilia, offered their condolences in the hours 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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