Cooper, TX School Bus And Tank Truck Collision, Sep 1959


Cooper, Tex., (AP) - A bus filled with school children and teachers en route to a junior high school football game collided head-on Tuesday night with a huge tank truck. The violent crash killed eight persons - six students and two teachers - and injured 22 others including 21 children.

The bus from Mt. Vernon, Tex., and the diesel truck collided at a highway intersection on the eastern edge of this east Texas town. There was no fire. The impact hurled some children to the highway, demolished the bus and smashed the truck's cab.

"The bus made a signal to turn left and then for some reason swerved. I just couldn't miss him. It was horrible," said J. M. WARRINGTON, 39, of Grand Saline, Tex., the truck driver.

WARRINGTON was injured and taken to a Paris, Tex., hospital. He was en route home from Pryor, Tex., where he had delivered a load of salt.

Killed in the crash were:
JACK HENRY, 43, principal of the Mt. Vernon Junior High School and driver of the bus.
His son, BILLY MAX, 12.
MELBA MEEKS, a teacher.
Three other students, ZACH TAYLOR, AUDREY SUE TURNER, 13, and WAUKITA RAINEY, a sixth grader, died from their injuries.

Ambulances took the injured to hospitals here, at Paris and Sulphur Springs. Anxious parents and relatives crowded hospital rooms and halls as they sought their children. At Paris an emergency call for blood donors brought out 400 volunteers.
A second bus carrying the Mt. Vernon Junior High School football squad arrived a few minutes after the accident. The game was cancelled.
The truck was en route to Grand Saline, a salt-producing center, after delivering a load of salt.
Exact cause of the accident was not clear. It occurred at a Y-shaped intersection. Officers said the bus was going north and the truck south when the bus driver started to turn left onto the branch of the Y.
Officers said apparently the bus driver decided he couldn't make it and swerved back to the right. At the same time, they said, the truck driver apparently cut to his left in an attempt to miss the bus, which he thought was going to turn left in front of him.
The vehicles collided in almost the middle of the highway.

The Winona Daily News Minnesota 1959-09-30