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‘The fact that no kids were killed was just amazing’

A church elder and a band director with ACU ties both died in a Texas high school band’s bus crash. However, it’s a 'miracle' the death toll wasn’t higher, says a fellow elder who witnessed the crash.

Terry Duzan drove his bus full of Andrews High School band members through the smoke and debris all around him on Interstate 20, desperately hoping to avoid whatever he had glimpsed smash into the lead bus.

Not until he managed to safely come to a stop a little further down the road did he fully take in the carnage that had just taken place in front of him.

“I was just terrified of what I might see. I was just envisioning bodies everywhere.”

“I was just terrified of what I might see,” Duzan told The Christian Chronicle. “I was just envisioning bodies everywhere.”

Duzan, an elder of the Andrews Church of Christ in West Texas, has been driving activity buses for Andrews High School for over a decade.

It started when he was a teacher and tennis coach but continued even after he retired a few years ago. The retirement didn’t last long, though — he’s back to coaching again.

Duzan was at tennis practice on the Friday afternoon before Thanksgiving when he was called on to drive one of the buses carrying the Andrews High School band to Sweetwater, a two-hour drive east. The school’s football team was to face Springtown there in a playoff game.

The 60-year-old hadn’t thought he’d be driving this time, but when one of the three drivers couldn’t go, Duzan was asked to fill in.

Terry and Michele Duzan

Terry and Michele Duzan

In hindsight, he said, it was providential.

His presence would be needed when a truck crashed into the lead bus — driven by friend and fellow Andrews church elder Marc Boswell, 69. Boswell died along with the truck driver and band director Darin Johns. Johns also had ties to Churches of Christ — he was a graduate of Abilene Christian University — though he was later a Baptist church member.

That Friday, Duzan and Boswell got to the buses pretty early, about 45 minutes before they were scheduled to leave — plenty of time to chat. They had been friends a long time, ever since the Duzans moved to Andrews in 1985.

“I normally don’t talk to him about elder stuff outside of elder meetings,” Duzan said. “But we were just standing around, so I brought some stuff up. … So that’s kind of interesting that that ended up being our last conversation.”

Then they set off for Sweetwater, Boswell driving bus No. 1, Duzan driving bus No. 2 and an Andrews Middle School teacher driving bus No. 3 — the band members divided among them. About an hour into the drive, they got to Big Spring, where the route took them onto I-20.

Not long after, as they were rounding a downhill curve, Duzan noticed Boswell veering out of the lane ahead of him.

“I didn’t know what he was swerving for,” Duzan said. “But when he swerved that big bus, it was really rocking the back — and I was thinking, he’s about to lose that thing. He’s about to lay it over, you know, as fast as it was whipping around.”

He saw smoke and debris 

As Duzan got closer, it became clear that something was very wrong.

“There was smoke and debris in the road, and as I was getting into that — not knowing where I was driving  … when all of the sudden, Marc hit something.”

“There was smoke and debris in the road, and as I was getting into that — not knowing where I was driving — I just kind of scooted over a little bit because I could see to the right … when all of the sudden, Marc hit something.”

At first, Duzan couldn’t tell exactly what had happened. He just barely saw the impact out of the corner of his eye as he was trying to safely navigate his own bus through the wreckage. When the smoke cleared from in front of him a little further down the road, he pulled over to the side.

Then, after making sure everyone on his bus was OK — they were — Duzan tried to go check on the lead bus.

“It took me a second to get the door open, and when I got outside, I realized why — because I wasn’t just running over things,” he said. “Something had hit me a little bit, and it started at my door handle and took a big chunk out of the bus right behind my door, and it scraped it down the side.”

That something turned out to be the pickup truck that had crashed into Boswell’s bus, a Ford F-350 that had been traveling down the wrong side of the interstate. It subsequently spun around backwards and grazed Duzan’s bus as he was driving by.

The truck was now sitting in the middle of the road, and Boswell’s bus had come to rest in the ditch of the median, up against a cable fence separating the two sides of the highway. As Duzan approached, he didn’t know what he might find.

“I’m scared to death of what I’m going to see because I can see the front of Marc’s bus, and I see that the front is gone, and I can see what’s left of the truck that hit us,” he said. “It was not on fire yet, but it was smoldering, and it was about even with the front of the bus.”

‘God kept that bus from turning over’

With the help of several bystanders, the children were making their way out of the bus through the emergency exits and gathering outside. By the time Duzan made it over there, all of them had gotten out — albeit with injuries, some severe.

The Texas Department of Public Safety later reported that of the 25 students on the bus, two were airlifted to the University Medical Center in Lubbock, 11 were taken to a local hospital in Big Spring, and the other 12 were uninjured. All survived.

But two of the three adults on the bus — Boswell and Johns — died. The surviving adult was Johns’ wife, Karen.

“As I approached the bus, I could see Marc — Marc’s body still in the driver’s seat, not at all where it was supposed to be, kind of pushed over,” Duzan said. “I put my hand on him and tried to wake him up — he was not going to wake up. He was still breathing, but he was bleeding pretty bad, and I could just kind of tell he wasn’t going to make it.”

That became even more apparent, Duzan said, when the firefighters and paramedics didn’t seem to spend much time looking at him. At that point, there wasn’t much Duzan could do but watch. And as he did so, he said, Duzan realized how Marc, with his quick thinking, had managed to park the bus safely without tipping over.

“God kept that bus from turning over. He kept it from crossing into the other lane of traffic. And the fact that only three people perished in that whole accident is a miracle, basically.”

“But as soon as that thought entered my mind, I thought, no, Marc did not put that bus there,” Duzan said. “Marc was already gone — God put that there. God kept that bus from turning over. He kept it from crossing into the other lane of traffic. And the fact that only three people perished in that whole accident is a miracle, basically.”

Duzan also realized how close he had come to taking his own bus off the steep embankment on the right side of the interstate as he drove through the smoke with hardly any visibility — that probably would have caused it to flip over, he said.

“So as I was standing around watching everything unfold,” Duzan said, “I began to see a whole lot more good in this situation than there was bad — even though the bad was really bad. The fact that no kids were killed was just amazing, and so I started looking at all the amazing things that happened and just began counting my blessings while standing on the highway.”

But that doesn’t change the fact that Boswell’s death leaves a big hole, not only for the Andrews Church of Christ but also for the entire Andrews community.

A church elder who did it all

Marc and Carol Boswell

Marc and Carol Boswell

Duzan said Boswell was the elder who did it all — staying at the church building from early morning to afternoon to do whatever needed to be done.

And he was a “big community guy,” serving as statistician for football games and baseball games, a timer at swim meets and a member of the Andrews Lions Club, a community service organization — and of course, he was a bus driver. Those were just the obvious roles — Duzan said there was much more behind the scenes.

“He did a whole lot of stuff that nobody knew about, and that’s what we’re finding out,” Duzan said. “Yeah, we’re going to miss him — big time.”

Read Boswell’s obituary from the McNett Funeral Home.

Filed under: Accident Andrews Andrews Church of Christ Andrews High School Car crash Features Marc Boswell National News Terry Duzan Texas Top Stories

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