One student was saved from a flooded LISD bus on route to Stiles Middle School on Oct. 16 after a bus driver attempted to drive over a low-water crossing at 8:28 a.m. on County Road 177, heading east from Ronald Reagan Boulevard toward County Road 175.
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 Leander ISD 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 have been rerouted from CR 177 due to the road’s closure.
According to a press release from the district, “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. We want to share this information directly with our families and staff.”
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.”
Ringstaff 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,” she said. “Obviously, this was too high. It was about three or four feet above the bridge. I would think it’s common sense.”
The 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 this morning 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’s press release stated: “We want to thank our first responders in Leander and Williamson County for their outstanding efforts in keeping our students, staff and community safe. As we continue to monitor inclement weather, please know our team works diligently to ensure safety. If you feel like your route to school may be unsafe, we trust parents to make the best decision possible regarding safe travel to and from school. Please contact your child’s campus if you decide to keep him or her home due to safety concerns with inclement weather. This will serve as an excused absence.”