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10 Dead, 5 Injured after Texas Prison Bus Hits Train Near Odessa

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This story is developing. We will update this post as we receive new information.

Update Wednesday 7:50 PM: One Texas prison officer and two prisoners are in critical condition after a deadly crash involving a prison transport bus and a Union Pacific train Wednesday morning.

Two other prisoners were listed in serious condition Wednesday night.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) said 38-year-old Correctional Officer Jason Self was sent to University Medical Center in Lubbock.

Meanwhile, the four injured prisoners remain at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa.

22-year-old Terry Johnson and 22-year-old Damien Rodriguez were listed in critical condition, while 34-year-old Remigio Pineda and 37-year-old Hector Rivera were listed in serious condition.

TDCJ also released the names of the two prison officers and eight offenders who were killed in the accident.

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Spokesperson Elizabeth Barney said it appeared there was ice on I-20 when the accident took place.

Barney also said seat belts were not available to the prisoners aboard the bus, and are not specifically required by state law for passengers on transport buses like the one involved in the crash.

The driver was wearing a seat belt as required by law, and on this particular bus, the two other guards aboard did have access to seat belts.

Original Post, Wednesday 1/14/15

Texas prison officers and eight offenders are dead after a prison transport bus skidded off I-20 near Odessa Wednesday morning and landed on a train.

Five other people who were aboard the bus were sent to Medical Center Hospital (MCH) in Odessa with injuries hospital spokesperson Tiffany Harston described as "pretty severe."

Nobody aboard the train was injured in the crash.

TDCJ said the bus was traveling from the state prison system's Middleton Unit in Abilene to its Sanchez Unit in El Paso when it slid off the interstate and collided with a Union Pacific train.

It's not clear yet whether winter weather contributed to the event, but some light freezing rain and freezing fog had been present across West Texas early Wednesday morning and in recent days.

Four other prisoners and one prison staffer were transported to Medical Center Hospital in Odessa. The hospital said around 1 p.m. that one person was in critical condition, and the other four were in serious condition.

The hospital couldn't confirm any details about the identities of the patients, such as which of the five were the prisoners and which one was the prison employee.

The National Transportation Safety Board has dispatched a team to the scene to investigate the accident.

Union Pacific said the bus struck two tractor trailer cargo containers that were being transported from California to Arkansas.

Pictures from the scene showed the crushed remains of at least two of the UPS containers.

Brad Livingston, TDCJ's Executive Director, said the department "mourns the loss of those killed and injured this morning."

The Red Cross' Permian Basin Area chapter was at the scene of the crash this afternoon providing food and beverages.

Union Pacific crews were in route to the scene of the accident today to assist with the investigation and cleanup.

- Tom Michael contributed reporting from Odessa.

Travis Bubenik is All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter at Marfa Public Radio.