4 injured in ICE charter bus crash in Rio Hondo

Four people were injured when this bus chartered by ICE crashed into the Rio Hondo lift bridge Friday night. Courtesy of Rio Hondo Department of Public Safety

RIO HONDO — The lift bridge here was  closed after it sustained substantial damage when a charter bus transporting immigration detainees crashed into it Friday night.

All four occupants of the bus chartered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, including two detained migrants, were injured.

Three were treated and released. The driver was reported to be in stable condition in a Harlingen hospital following surgery.

The bus was chartered by ICE to transport immigration detainees. It was west-bound on Colorado Boulevard when the driver failed to stay in his lane and crashed into the east side of the bridge about 6:15 p.m. Friday, officials said.

Officials said it is unknown when the bridge can be reopened. Texas Department of Transportation officials were on the scene Saturday assessing the damage.

“Other agencies will be assisting and we’ll have more information on Monday,” said William Bilokury, Public Safety Director for the City of Rio Hondo.

“TxDOT has closed the bridge. It has substantial damage. They have another engineer coming from Austin to come up with an action plan to repair the bridge and determine what they are going to do between then and now.”

As of now, the bridge has no lifting ability. The hope, Bilokury said, is that at the least the bridge can be reopened for vehicular traffic, even if it cannot lift for barge traffic.

Officials said the bus struck a curb, veered into oncoming traffic and struck another vehicle.

“That caused him to crash into one of the upright I-beams, part of the main structure of the bridge,” Bilokury said.

The four occupants included two ICE detainees and two officers, one of whom was the driver, he said.

The driver was trapped inside the bus and was extricated by firefighters from the Rio Hondo Volunteer Fire Department and the Harlingen Fire Department.

All four were taken to Valley Baptist Medical Center for treatment.

The driver, who sustained the most serious injuries, was taken into surgery and was in stable condition as of early Saturday morning, Bilokury said.

The other three sustained non-life threatening injuries. The two detainees were treated and released into ICE custody. The other officer also was treated and released.

Meanwhile, the bridge was reopened late Saturday.