Two Lighthouse Charter School students remained hospitalized at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health Monday evening, following a fatal bus crash that killed 5-year-old Donasty Smith and bus driver Thomas Spencer, 60.
Ten of the 50 students on the bus were originally taken to area hospitals for injuries, but eight students were treated and released from IU Methodist Hospital by Monday evening.
One of the survivors of the Lighthouse charter school bus crash said he had no idea anything was about to happen when his bus driver slammed into a support column of a railroad bridge Monday morning.
“It was just so quick, everything went black,” said Dennis McGill, a 15-year-old student at Lighthouse charter school.
The knockout punch delivered during the crash was enough to bruise McGill’s chin. Just before everything went black he said he can remember sitting next to his little sister near the back of the bus on their way to school.
“Everything was all calm and then, all of a sudden, we just hit the bridge,” McGill said.
McGill said he doesn’t remember any commotion, rowdiness or concerns expressed by anyone before the crash, and in the seconds afterward the big brother acted like big brothers do.
“I hopped up real fast and me and my friend, Ben Savage, we opened the emergency door and we started helping kids out,” McGill said.
Michael Hobbs Sr. had three kids on that bus, including two girls who walked away from the crash.
“They’re okay. You know, they’re kind of shaken up from the trauma,” Hobbs said. “They ain’t never been through nothing like this.”
Hobbs says his son, 10-year-old Michael Watkins, wasn’t as lucky. An ambulance rushed him to Riley Hospital with a broken femur.
“I grabbed his hand, we held hands and he kind of shook a little tear and I shook my tears,” Hobbs said. “I told him we’re going to stand strong and we’re going to make it through this.”
Hobbs said his son made it through surgery and will be fine. He said his thoughts are now with the families of those who died.
“From my understanding, they said the kids were talking to (the driver) and then he just stopped talking,” Hobbs said. “That’s when everything just fell to pieces.”
McGill said he doesn’t know what happened at the front of the bus. He’s just glad the impact didn’t knock him out for good.
“It just happened so fast. I didn’t know what was going to happen,” McGill said. “I just can’t believe I was in it.”
Hobbs said his son should be released from the hospital in time to celebrate his birthday on Tuesday.
A family member of the other remaining hospitalized victim said another boy remains in critical condition. They said he was trapped underneath the bus with a fractured skull and had to undergo an emergency leg amputation.