Mt. Pleasant, Texas - An East Texas community is mourning the loss of a beloved track coach who was killed in a crash involving a school bus, an 18-wheeler and another vehicle.
The wreck happened late Thursday night on Highway 271 near the town of Talco, which is about 125 miles northeast of Dallas.
A Mount Pleasant High School bus was carrying the boys’ track team home from a meet. It was hit by an 18-wheeler and rolled, killing the 50-year-old big rig driver from Missouri.
Just minutes before the big rig crossed the center stripe and smashed into the bus and another car, a 911 caller reported a truck driving erratically.
At least 18 students were hurt. Three coaches and a student are in critical condition. They were taken to several different hospitals.
Angelica Beard, an assistant coach, was following behind the bus in her car and was hit head on by the truck, killing her. Her husband said their 7-year-old twin boys had wanted to go with her to the track meet, but he had told them to go next time.
Beard was an elementary school P.E teacher and volunteered to coach the high school girl's track team.
Marshall ISD Superintendent Judd Marshall described Beard as a teacher with a spunky personality and always had a smile on her face.
“She was in her own car. When our bus got hit by the 18-wheeler, there was no time for her to get out of the way,” Marshall explained.
The superintendent said the coach driving the school bus has a collapsed lung and broken ribs. His last minute swerve to avoid the big rig may have saved many lives.
“He's a hero,” Marshall said. “They said if it hadn't been for him, this would be worse than it already is."
The girls’ team was on another bus several miles behind, but they were not involved in the accident.
“14-year-old kids shouldn't have to see what they saw. They did what Mount Pleasant kids do and got off the bus to go help the other Mount Pleasant kids,” Marshall explained. “To have that kind of carnage on the road is really unbelievable."
The school is expected to have counselors on hand Friday to help grieving students and staff.
The president of the Missouri company the truck driver worked for said that he was a good driver that she's known all her life. She did not want to say anything else.