A school bus driver ignored a road closure sign the morning of Oct. 16, as record rains flooded the area around Austin, Texas — and dash camera footage captured the terrifying scene that unfolded because of that decision.
After driving past the barricade, a Leander bus driver with one student passenger approached a flooded stretch of road. The driver kept going, video from the front dash camera shows. But the murky waters the driver forded into quickly grew deeper as the bus drove further, splashing and foaming on the hood of the vehicle.
Eventually the driver lost control altogether, with the bus tipping in the churning waters. The bus then began to float down the bloated creek that had been running across the road, video shows.
All the while, the bus’s windshield wipers beat away the rain hitting the dashboard.
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Trees hanging over the floodwaters scratched at the bus, and branches got caught in its two front mirrors. The vehicle finally came to a stop amid some trees.
Around that time, emergency responders rescued the driver and the 12-year-old boy inside the bus with him, the Austin American-Statesman reports.
Nathan DeYoung, the 57-year-old school bus driver, was arrested on charges of endangering a child and not obeying warning signs following the incident, online jail records said. DeYoung was booked at the Williamson County Jail on $10,000 bond, but was release the next day.
A Leander Independent School District spokesperson said DeYoung had worked for the district since August, but has since been fired, according to Patch.
The middle school student who was in the bus called his mother “in hysterics” just before 8:30 a.m. that morning, the mother, Ashley Ringstaff, wrote in a Facebook post.
The bus had been en route to Stiles Middle School, Hill Country News reports.
The boy was “telling me he loves me and that he is scared and thinking he was going to die,” Ringstaff wrote. “I hope no one ever has to listen to their child or loved one preparing to die because of a stupid decision that should of never have happened.”
Ringstaff said that the boy is “exhausted and resting” but wasn’t hurt during the ordeal. She also thanked Leander and county rescuers for getting the boy home safe.
“Water isn’t forgiving and has more force than most people think,” Ringstaff wrote. “Just because you think you can make it across a low water crossing, doesn’t mean that you will. It’s not worth it, ever.”
Police agreed with Ringstaff in a statement that accompanied the dash camera video, which was posted on Facebook on Friday.
“Just two feet of water can carry away most vehicles,” Leander police wrote, advising motorists to turn around instead of risking drowning by fording into unknown waters.
Police said they released the video “to illustrate the dangers of attempting to drive across a low-water crossing during flood conditions.”