updated 2:19 PM UTC, Oct 15, 2020

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Church bus wreck claims passenger’s life



By Chris Edwards
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WARREN – A man is dead and several people were left injured from a wreck that occurred last Wednesday north of Warren.
According to a report by the Texas Department of Public Safety, a bus from First Baptist Church of Warren was travelling southbound on US Highway 69, when, according to witnesses, a silver 2018 Honda Pilot pulled out from a driveway in front of the bus. The driver of the bus attempted to avoid a collision with the vehicle, and tried to maneuver around it, but lost control. The bus left the roadway and struck a tree.

According to DPS, there were nine occupants on the bus, including six children ranging in age from 9 to 14. One of two adult passengers, James Craft, Jr., a 42-year-old Woodville man, was pronounced dead at the scene by Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Trisher Ford.

The driver, identified as Robert Craig, of Wildwood, was transported to Tyler County Hospital with serious injuries. Another adult passenger, Doug Sheffield, of Warren, was transported to a Beaumont hospital with serious injuries.

The children were transported to separate hospitals, and according to DPS, their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.
DPS later identified the driver of the vehicle that pulled out in front of the bus as 70-year-old Wayne Mentzel of Warren. Mentzel pulled onto the shoulder of the road and left his vehicle to help those who were injured.

All of the northbound and southbound lanes of the highway were closed for approximately two hours, as emergency personnel worked the site, according to DPS.

In the wake of the wreck, a wave of support for those injured and statements of mourning for Craft spread across social media.
At press time, there is no word on the conditions of any of the six children or on Sheffield. According to postings on social media by Craig’s wife, Audrey, he remains in critical condition with broken ribs, broken legs and lung contusion.

Craig serves as a youth pastor at Warren FBC and a GoFundMe page was set up to help with medical expenses. His wife posted on the page, which is found at the URL gofundme.com/help-the-craig-family, “I am asking if you cannot afford to help my family out that you offer them your prayers for a speedy and full recovery.”

This is an ongoing investigation, and all information from DPS is considered preliminary as they continue to investigate.




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