First-graders killed in bus crash while on field trip to Dallas amusement park


IRVING, Texas — Friends and family gathered Tuesday to remember a 9-year-old boy who died after a tour bus rolled into an overpass on Interstate 30 in Dallas on Monday.

First responders transported eight people to a hospital, including first- and second-graders, a Houston resident and one woman. Six adults were released, but Keesha Phillips and Trey Pollard, 9, died. The bus was carrying 18 children and the driver to Hollywood Studios amusement park.

Ivan Dolce, the 2nd grader’s cousin, said Wednesday that no one knew that something like this could happen. When he found out the child had died, he said, he didn’t believe it.

“I was really sad for my cousin,” he said. “He’s really young. He was really, really young. It was really, really rough to hear.”

According to the statement, the bus was headed west on I-30 approaching the overpass at the same time the expressway is in an “uncontrolled descent” near North Dallas, Texas.

Dolce said that at one point during the trip, a counselor had told the children “to sit down” when they saw flashing lights ahead.

“She just told them to sit down because they were going to see the angels,” Dolce said.

Nicole Fox, a spokeswoman for Hollywood Studios, said Tuesday in a statement that the group consisted of children from Highlands Elementary in Fort Worth, Texas, about 15 miles west of Dallas. The school district said earlier that 25 students and two chaperones were on the bus and that classes were being cancelled until at least Wednesday.

Dolce said that within days of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, he saw his cousin begin to talk about becoming a police officer.

“He wanted to help out and help out people when he was old enough to,” Dolce said.

Phillips’ classmate, 12-year-old Jeremiah Brown, said he attended Highlands Elementary but switched to a different school this year.

Brown said he didn’t know Phillips well. But he added that “no matter what was going on, she was always there for me.”

“She would help me, if I needed it,” he said.

Her uncle, Ricardo Guevara, said in a statement that Phillips was a happy, fun person.

“She loved to sing,” Guevara said in Spanish. “A beautiful girl, full of joy.”

Guevara said he had been hoping and praying that Phillips would recover.

“She suffered immensely,” he said.

The bus driver, Laura Van Dyke, was listed in stable condition and expected to survive, Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Adrian Lowery said Tuesday.

Officials have not released the names of the victims and did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Police said the bus, which had no plate numbers, had permission to travel on Interstate 30.

The driver “was able to avoid hitting oncoming traffic by swerving to the right,” but was unable to stay upright, Lowery said.