LIVE OAK COUNTY — Three men were killed early Thursday and four others taken to area hospitals after the white passenger van in which they were traveling collided with a Three Rivers ISD school bus on U.S. Highway 72 W — about four miles west of Three Rivers.
The 12 children on the bus suffered only minor injuries, authorities reported.
The 6:50 a.m. accident along U.S. Highway 72 near Quail Ridge Road — which kept authorities on the scene for nearly five hours — claimed the lives of driver Daniel Zambrano, 26; passengers Jose Rios, 41; and Martin Aguirre, 43, reports show.
The three men were pronounced dead at the scene, according to Charlie Ramirez, a Corpus Christi-based senior corporal for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Ramirez said the Ford E350 passenger van in which seven men were traveling was heading eastbound on U.S. Highway 72 W when it struck the rear of the school bus with the left driver side of the van.
Fatigue is suspected to have been a factor in the accident.
The bus had stopped because the driver was waiting for another vehicle to exit Lago Vista RV Park due to a narrow entrance, authorities said.
The surviving van passengers were taken to area hospitals: Cory Kent, 34, and Cobra Lewis,32, to South Texas Regional Medical Center in Jourdanton by ground ambulance; and Gerardo Carrio, 27, by Halo Flight to a Corpus Christi medical facility. Daniel Delgado, 33, was taken by ground ambulance to Christus Spohn Beeville Hospital.
The front passenger of the van — one of the survivors who authorities did not immediately identify — was the only occupant wearing a seatbelt, reports show.
The speed at which the men were traveling as not immediately available Thursday. The speed limit in that area is 70 mph.
TRISD Superintendent Kenneth Rohrbach said the students were treated and released after inspected by EMS.
Live Oak County Sheriff Larry R. Busby said a second school bus arrived at the scene to transport the children the rest of the way to Three Rivers ISD. There, the 12 students on the school bus were immediately examined by EMS workers.
An undisclosed number of students were taken to area hospitals at parents request, he added.
"That's the worst call a superintendent can ever get," Rohrbach said. "I'm glad it was not more serious for the kids. I feel bad for the others involved — and their families."
Reporter Melissa Lovett contributed information to this story.