3 dead following tragic crash

Andrews mourning loss after Friday afternoon bus accident

Courtesy Photo via CBS7

The community of Andrews is mourning the loss of their band director and a longtime math teacher following the tragic crash of a bus carrying band students to a football playoff game Friday night in Sweetwater.

The crash occurred near Big Spring and sent 13 students to area hospitals including 11 to Scenic Mountain in Big Spring and two others to Lubbock’s University Medical Center. Three were killed in the crash.

The band was on the way to support the Andrews Mustangs in an area playoff game in the second round of the Class 4A Division 1 against Springtown. The game was postponed until Monday following the crash.

Among those killed was Andrews High School Band Director Darin K. Johns.

The accident occurred at 4:02 p.m. Friday on Interstate 20, two miles east of Big Spring. His wife, Karen, was also injured in the wreck.

A preliminary investigation showed a 2016 Ford F-350 truck was traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 20 for unknown reasons. A 2005 Motor Coach Industries bus and a 2018 Freightliner bus were traveling eastbound in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 20. The report issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety says the F-350 struck the 2005 Motor Coach Industries bus in the outside lane. The 2018 Freightliner bus also struck the Ford.

The Ford caught fire upon impact. The report said the 2018 Freightliner sustained minor damage.

The driver of the Ford truck, Nathan Paul Haile, 59, of Midland was killed. The report stated he was not wearing a seatbelt and was pronounced dead by Justice of the Peace Kelly Seales.

Marc Elbert Boswell, 69, of Andrews, in the 2005 Motor Coach Industries bus, was also killed and was the driver of the bus as well as the statistician of the football team. He is a retired longtime math teacher who enjoyed driving the bus. He was wearing a seatbelt and was pronounced by Dr. Theophilus Pham, the report said.

Johns, 53, of Andrews, was a passenger and was killed. He was pronounced dead by Seals, the report stated.

Karen Gatny Johns, 53, of Andrews, was taken to Scenic Mountain Medical Center in Big Spring with non-incapacitating injuries, the report stated.

Additional passengers included 25 Andrews High School students. Two students were airlifted to University Medical Center in Lubbock with incapacitating injuries, the report stated.

Eleven students were transported to Scenic Mountain Medical Center with non-incapacitating injuries and the remaining 12 students were not injured, the report stated.

The investigation was conducted by Odessa Texas Highway Patrol Sgt. Jon Shock and assisted by 4A District Crash Team, Texas Highway Patrol, Big Spring Police Department, Big Spring Fire Department, Howard County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Department of Transportation.

Jeff Whitaker, the director of bands at Permian High School, said he knew Johns pretty well and Johns was one of the “nicest humans ever.” Whitaker said Johns was a leader in the profession. Whitaker said Johns spent a huge part of his career in small schools.

Messages of support have come in from across the state.

Springtown ISD tweeted support of “continued prayers for our friends in Andrews ISD…both parties agreed to postpone tonight’s football game…”

Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement on the crash.

“Our hearts go out to those who were injured or lost their lives in the bus crash in Big Spring, and we grieve for the families of those taken too soon. The Texas Department of Public Safety is working closely with local officials to investigate this accident, and the State of Texas is ready to provide any additional resources and support needed to Andrews ISD, Big Spring, and those affected by this tragedy. I thank the first responders who rushed to the scene to help those involved in the crash, and I ask Texans to join me and Cecilia in prayer for those involved in this horrific accident.”

State Rep. Brooks Landgraf on Saturday said counselors were on hand in Andrews for anyone who needed them.

“Please join Shelby and me in praying for everyone involved, everyone grieving and especially Karen Johns, the Johns family and the Boswell family. The wonderful community of Andrews can use every bit of support we can give right now.

“Lastly, thank you to the hard working women and men of the Texas Department of Public Safety and other first responders for working so diligently on the scene and helping to save lives.”

Andrews Superintendent Bobby Azam was in a car behind the buses and said during a Friday night news conference that Big Spring school officials and citizens had offered support to Andrews during the difficult time. Students were fed and comforted by Big Spring ISD teachers and staff as they waited to be picked up following the accident.

The accident occurred just about two miles from the site of a December 2016 crash that killed one person and injured seven others who were on an Iraan school van of cheerleaders heading to a playoff game.