One student was killed and several were injured after a Mesquite Independent School District bus carrying 42 children from Terry Middle School rolled onto its side and caught fire Wednesday afternoon, officials say.
The crash happened along Lawson Road, near E. Cartwright Road — about a mile from Horn High School.
"It is with a very heavy heart that we must confirm that today, we lost one student," the district wrote in a tweet Wednesday evening. "Out of respect for the privacy of that child's family, that is all we will confirm at this time."
Seven people were transported to hospitals — three students, three police officers and the bus driver — with injuries that were not life threatening, according to Mesquite police.
The remaining 38 students were taken to Terry Middle School to be reunited with their families, the district said.
School officials said first responders, citizens and Mesquite ISD employees were quick to rescue the children from the burning bus. Police officers were treated for smoke inhalation.
"We know these citizens saved many lives tonight, and we are deeply moved by and thankful for their heroic acts," a district statement read.
"We are so grateful for the outpouring of love & support shown within our district, as well as by our community & other school districts," read a Mesquite ISD tweet Thursday. "Please continue to keep the families, students & staff of Terry in your thoughts. Counselors continue to be on hand for students & staff."
Police have not yet determined what caused the bus to crash.
From Texas Sky Ranger, the bus was seen on its passenger side, and police later confirmed that it struck a power line and caught fire. The bus was visibly smoldering when Texas Sky Ranger arrived overhead. Much of the engine compartment was destroyed, having been consumed by flames.
With the passenger side of the bus against the ground, those on board apparently escaped using the back door and the rooftop hatch, both of which were open.
Donald Hodge, who lives nearby, says the road is a known trouble spot.
"The road goes to the left and then back to the right real fast and it's like right after a bridge," Hodge said.
A Texas Department of Transportation database showed on Wednesday 68 crashes have been reported on the same stretch of road since 2010.
"As a parent, it just broke my heart," Cheri Patterson, who had learned of the crash after picking up four of her children, one of whom is a seventh grader at Terry Middle School, told The Dallas Morning News. "All you want to do is hold your children. All you want to do is know that they're safe."
Wednesday afternoon, Mesquite ISD Superintendent Dr. David Vroonland released a statement on Facebook that read in part:
"Community members, MISD employees and first responders acted quickly and risked their own lives to save these children. We know these citizens saved many lives tonight and we are deeply moved by and thankful for their heroic acts. But it is with a very heavy heart that we must confirm that today, we lost one student. Out of respect for the privacy of that child's family, that is all we will confirm at this time. Dr. Vroonland is meeting privately with the family. We ask for continued prayers for this grieving family, the Terry Middle School family and our entire MISD community."
Drivers who had to leave their cars near the scene were later escorted by police to retrieve their vehicles.
Lawson Road reopened before dawn Thursday morning after crews towed the charred bus away.
NBC 5's Matt Jackson, Frank Heinz, Chris Blake, Meredith Yeomans and Allie Spillyards contributed to this report.