By KAYLA BOUCHARD, Hill Country News
One student was saved from a flooded Leander ISD bus on route to Stiles Middle School on Oct. 16 after a bus driver attempted to drive over a low-water crossing on County Road 177, heading east from Ronald Reagan Boulevard toward County Road 175.
Ashley Ringstaff, the student’s mother said that her child called her as the bus was swept down Brushy Creek from the flooded roadway.
“(My son) called me in hysterics at about 8:26 this morning,” she said. “I was in shock because he was telling me he loved me and saying goodbye. The roadway was barricaded by the time I got there so I had to wait back. No parent should ever have to get a call like I did this morning thinking he’s going to die going to school.”
The Leander Police and Fire departments arrived on the scene and completed a water rescue for the twelve-year-old student and the bus driver. Williamson County EMS treated and then released the student to the family.
Leander PD arrested the bus driver, Nathan Scott Deyoung, 57, of Leander, for driving around a posted barricade and charged with a violation of TRC 472.022 (Obeying Warning Signs and Barricades / Class B Misd.).
LISD officials confirmed Dyoung is no longer employed by the district following the incident and resulting arrest. Deyoung was transported to the Williamson County Jail without incident. After further investigation and consultation with the Williamson County District Attorney’s Office, Deyoung was also charged with PC 22.041 (Abandoning or Endangering a Child / State Jail Felony).
All buses had been rerouted from CR 177 due to the road’s closure.
The student’s mom said she implores LISD to look at protocols on driving during the rainy season so that this will never happen again.
“I want the district to have education on what to do when something like this happens, common sense driving and protocols on how high of water is too high,” Ringstaff said. “Obviously, this was too high. It was about three or four feet above the bridge. I would think it’s common sense.”
The LISD transportation department regularly reviews protocols for driving safely on roadways and instructs bus drivers to never drive through water over the roadway. Transportation dispatch reminded drivers that morning, and many recent mornings, to be cautious and call for assistance if encountering water over the roadway.
Residents of County Road 177 Markus Lagmanson and Rick Kane said that vehicles attempting to pass the low-water crossing and being swept away has happened several times before.
“This is the seventh or eighth time I’ve seen someone go off this little water crossing,” said Kane. “I think the issue is that it’s really narrow, it’s only one car wide and its very slippery. There’s no possible way any vehicle is going to safely make it through that. I have three little kids, this neighborhood is full of kids. I want to know how a school bus drove into extremely dangerous flood waters.”
“I have two kids,” added Lagmanson. “The bus never made it here… I said you must be kidding. Brushy Creek is at the bottom of our property and, sure enough, that’s where the bus ended up. It’s crazy that anybody would think that’s okay to even attempt. You can’t see the bridge, there’s no reflectors to tell you where it is. It’s just crazy, I don’t know what they were thinking.”
The district released the information directly to LISD families and staff through an email that same day stating, “the safety and security of our students is our top priority in Leander ISD. In an effort to keep you informed, please review the following details regarding a school bus accident involving one middle school student and a driver earlier this morning.”