NEW VIDEO: School bus nearly hit by passing train; Klein ISD bus driver fired

HOUSTON – A Klein Independent School District bus driver has been fired after video surfaced showing the bus stopping dangerously close to a moving train.


The incident happened around 2:15 p.m. Feb. 10 at the intersection of Northcrest and Root Road. The district said the bus was transporting Klein Oak High School students at the time.

The video shows the back of the bus mere inches from the passing train. Texas law states that a driver cannot be closer than 15 feet to the tracks.

"I was terrified. I thought I was going to die," said student Harold VanAlstyne IV. "We were all screaming and telling her to move forward. Everyone was just really freaking out."

Harold, a 10th grader at Klein Oak High School, was sitting at the back of the bus when students spotted a train fast approaching.

"I got up and I ran to the middle of the front of the bus and I got down and I braced myself, getting ready for the impact because at that moment I was scared for my life," said VanAlstyne.

He said the driver moved off the tracks at the last second and the train missed the bus at Northcrest and Root last Wednesday.

"My heart dropped. I had two sons on that bus," said father Harold VanAlstyne III. "To me, any responsible adult should take care of anyone else's children like their own."

Harold's parents watched the video in horror.

"It could have been horrible. Just a few more inches and it could've been done," said mother Sharon VanAlstyne.

After crossing the tracks, the driver stopped at a stop sign.  When the driver stopped, the district says the bus was still too close to the tracks, which is why the train came so close to hitting it.

Standard procedure said bus drivers have to stop at least 15 feet from the track, then open the door and look and listen.

"I think it's pretty scary. Like it's crazy what could happen to people just on their ride home from school," Klein High student Dominick Burns said. "People need to pay better attention on what they're doing, where they're at, and buses are supposed to stop before they hit the track anyway."

The district said the bus driver was initially suspended and has since been fired.

Klein ISD released a statement that read in part: "The bus driver subsequently returned the bus to school reporting that the students were too loud for the bus to be driven safely. The bus driver was suspended while the incident was investigated. The investigation revealed that the driver did not follow standard procedures when crossing the railroad track with the train coming in the distance."

According to Texas law, "A driver approaching a railroad crossing must stop not closer than 15 feet or farther than 50 feet from the nearest rail if: (1) a clearly visible railroad signal warns of the approach of a railroad train; (2) a crossing gate is lowered, or a flagger warns of an approach; (3) a railroad engine approaching within approximately 1,500 feet of the highway crossing emits a signal audible from that distance and the engine is an immediate hazard because of its speed or proximity to the crossing; (4) an approaching railroad train is plainly visible and is in hazardous proximity to the crossing; or (5) the driver is required to stop by a traffic-control device or signal."

The district says the bus driver in this incident did stop and open the door to look around, but didn’t look around enough to see that a train was near.

The bus driver’s daughter reached out to Channel 2 via Facebook, saying her mother has been a dedicated bus driver for 20 years, despite being bullied by students. She says the students were out of control at the time when the incident occurred.  Her mother was not fired, rather she chose to resign from her job and she has the support of many other bus drivers, the daughter says.

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Wild video shows train nearly hitting school bus. Watch it here: Tell us what you think.

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Thursday, February 18, 2016