September 15, 2015 / 1:21 PM / 4 years ago

Two students killed in Houston school bus crash

(Reuters) - A school bus carrying four students was hit by a car and plunged off a highway overpass in Houston on Tuesday morning, killing two girls and injuring the others on board, officials said.

The driver of the car made an unsafe lane change and her Buick LeSabre struck the bus, which veered to the right, struck a guardrail and then went off the overpass, Houston police said.

The car’s driver, who was not identified, showed no signs of impairment and was not injured, police said. She was questioned and released and no charges have been filed, police said.

The driver is a Houston school teacher, the Houston Independent School District said.

The district said a 17-year-old student was pronounced dead at the scene and a 14-year-old student at a hospital. Both were girls.

Two students - a boy and a girl - and the bus driver were hospitalized with serious injuries, the district said. The injured students were both earlier identified as boys.

The bus was bound for Furr High School, which is also home to a charter school, the district said.

Officials said the injured bus driver was Louisa Pacheco. She has been with the school district for about three years and has a clean driving record, the district said in a statement.

Video footage indicated the bus had been on an overpass and broke through a guardrail, sending it airborne. It then appeared to hit an embankment.

Grief counselors have been working with students, Furr High School Principal Bertie Simmons said.

“The entire HISD family is mourning,” Deputy Superintendent Ken Huewitt said.

The bus was bought new in 2008 and had a maintenance inspection over the summer. It was equipped with safety belts for passengers and seven security cameras, the district said. Wearing the safety belts is optional, an official said.

The district has not released video footage, which is being reviewed.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Additional reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Editing by Eric Beech and Peter Cooney

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