A church bus carrying senior adults returning from a retreat in southwestern Texas on Wednesday collided head-on with a pickup truck, killing 13 people and injuring two others.
At about 12:20 p.m., the small passenger bus, carrying 14 people, was traveling south on the two-lane highway when a white Dodge pickup truck veered into its lane, striking the bus and killing 12 passengers on the scene, including the bus driver.
One woman died later in the hospital, while another woman remained in critical condition. The driver of the truck received medical treatment for his injuries, and remained in stable condition Wednesday night.
All of the people who died were members of First Baptist Church in New Braunfels, Texas, who had attended a three-day retreat at Alto Frio Baptist Encampment in Leakey, Texas. The crash occurred about 120 miles from the church.
Those killed were "parents and grandparents," and some of the most active members of the church's tightknit congregation of less than 500 people, said Marcia Dean, a church member and former employee.
"They had a fabulous time," Dean said of the retreat. "They sang and laughed and praised the Lord."
The New Braunfels church was packed late into the night Wednesday, as several of the families of those who were on the bus gathered to wait for authorities to confirm the names of the dead.
They received the news shortly before 9 p.m., Dean said. Local restaurants have provided food to the church to feed the families, and pastors from other churches have reached out in support. Counselors will be on hand at the church on Thursday.
"Our community has rallied around us," Dean said. "We're been talking, we've been hugging, we've been crying and telling stories."
Many of the families and church members felt a sense of peace that those who died spent their final days praying and having a "blast."
"They've gone home," Dean said.