‘They just wanted their moms’ | Mother survived deadly Texas bus crash, recounts tragic day

For the first time, we’re hearing from a survivor of a deadly school bus crash that killed two people.

AUSTIN, Texas — A school bus crash in March that killed a 5-year-old boy forever changed the lives of more than 50 teachers and students, and for the first time, a survivor of that day is speaking about the crash that left her and her daughter seriously injured.

In an emotional account, Victoria Limon, a 43-year-old special education aide, opens up about her physical and emotional scars and anger at the man authorities say is responsible for causing the collision.

The day started with a Christmas morning-like joy about a field trip to the Capital of Texas Zoo in Bastrop County for students at Tom Green Elementary in Buda.

“My daughter came running down the stairs, ‘I am so excited!’” Limon remembers her daughter, Diana saying.

RELATED: Multiple lawsuits filed after deadly school bus crash in Bastrop County

“The field trip is a really big deal,” Limon said. “The permission slips, and making sure everyone has lunches.”

The day ended in tragedy when a concrete truck veered into the lane the bus was driving in, flipping it and causing it to spin counterclockwise before coming to a rest down an embankment.

“I remember their faces, some of their faces were bloody. They didn’t know what to do. There was glass everywhere,” Limon said. “The kids are crying. They are all 4 and 5 years old and they just wanted their mom.”

That morning – 55 passengers – 44 pre-kindergarten students and 11 adults – from Tom Green loaded into a 2011 yellow International bus around 9 a.m. They arrived around 10 a.m.

RELATED: Truck driver allegedly admitted to drug use before deadly school bus crash in Bastrop County

“The kids were so excited,” Limon said. “They got to see all kinds of animals. There were boa snakes. Some of the kids were able to wear it, take pictures.”

Three hours later, the bus rumbled back along the busy stretch of highway as many children napped while teachers talked quietly.

Then Limon – about four rows back – noticed a large truck coming at them in what seemed like slow motion.

“Then you heard the impact, and as the bus moved and tumbled, you have these flashes, maybe because I was blinking maybe, but I was reaching out trying to grab some of the kids,” Limon said.

RELATED: New details after Hays CISD releases video of deadly school bus crash

The impact hurtled the bus down an embankment. Within moments, bystanders and emergency responders helped pull victims through doors and windows.

“I saw one of our teachers there and she was laying on her side and I didn’t recognize her because of her injuries,” Limon said.

Limon stood on the side of the road, tending to the children as best she could.

“I was looking at this one, and this one, and this one, and Diana…I just kept rotating and I have to make sure they are OK because they are my kids too,” she said.

As emergency responders triaged patients, Limon went to the hospital in the same ambulance as her daughter.

Diana was bruised all over. Victoria – badly cut – suffered a bone contusion and four fractured vertebrae.

At the hospital, she learned a child – 5-year-old Ulises Rodriguez Montoya – had not survived.

RELATED: Hays CISD approves funding for new buses with seat belts, retrofitting old buses

“That broke my heart. It could have been any of the kids. It could have been my daughter,” she said. “It makes you thankful to have them, and it makes you think about all the times you take for granted, that they are going to come running down the stairs.”

Also killed that day – 33-year-old Ryan Wallace, a University of Texas doctoral student traveling to pick up his nephews from a different school.

A month and a half later, Limon is angry at the man investigators say was responsible.

Jerry Hernandez, who was behind the wheel of a cement truck, has been charged with criminally negligent homicide. An affidavit says Hernandez told investigators that he smoked marijuana the night before the crash and did a small amount of cocaine in the wee hours the day of the crash.

“I definitely want him held accountable,” Limon said. “I want him to know, I would like for him to feel remorse for what is happening.”

For now,  Limon is recovering from physical wounds – and the emotional ones.

“I just wish it had gone differently,” she said.

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