School bus crash: Still waiting on answers

School bus crash: Still waiting on answers

22 Mayıs 2018 - 02:00

Paramus fifth graders were supposed to be enjoying a day of hands-on learning on a field trip to a 19th-century canal town. But tragedy struck before students and teachers could get to their final destination when a dump truck and school bus collided -- leaving one student and a teacher dead. 

Three days after the accident we have some but not all the answers to how a yellow school bus ended up in a wreck on the side of Route 80. 

A field trip

Students, teachers and chaperones departed from  East Brook Middle School in Paramus en route to Waterloo Village in Sussex County, on Thursday morning officials said.

Three buses were driving to the living history museum when the accident occurred at 10:21 a.m.

The bus involved in the crash was carrying 38 students and 7 adults. Of the 45 people on board, two died and 43 were taken to area hospitals. 

The other two buses arrived at Waterloo Village and then returned to the school.

A failed U turn

Waterloo Village is located off of Exit 25 in Mount Olive. The school bus driver had initially missed the exit. 

The driver then attempted to an illegal U-turn in the highway median moments before a dump truck struck the bus from behind, an official source told NJ Advance Media.

The driver of the bus — who has not been named — is an employee with the school district's transportation department and was also taken to the hospital. 

Two have died

The crash killed teacher Jennifer Williamson, 51, and fifth-grade student Miranda Faith Vargas.

Williamson had been a teacher in Paramus for her entire career. Public records show that she has been a teacher since 1997.

Her husband Kevin Kennedy said in a statement on Friday, "I am in shock, devastated and totally crushed by today's tragedy to both sides of the Williamson-Kennedy families, the community she taught and the thousands of students and their families she was very proud to serve."'

Ten-year-old Vargas is being remembered as "beautiful, gentle soul with a passionate love for her family." according to a GoFundMe page set up by her parents

"We are devastated that our baby's life here with us is over, but we will always carry her legacy with us forever," the post on the GoFundMe page states. "She was a beautiful, gentle soul with a passionate love for her family."

Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera announced Friday night that there will be town-wide memorial service on Sunday at Our Lady of the Visitation at 7:30 p.m. The church is located at 234 N. Fairview Ave, Paramus.



A community in mourning

East Brook PTA President Ann Marie Franson has said that the PTA's main focus support those affected by Thursday's accident. 

"It is so difficult to put into words the sorrow that is felt over the tragic loss of our beautiful student Miranda Vargas and our beloved teacher Mrs. Williamson. As we mourn the tragic loss of these beautiful angels, we continuously pray for the students and teachers who remain in the hospital and those who are dealing with their injuries and scars both physically and emotionally."

The PTA will be setting up a fundraiser for the affected families once they are able to gather their thoughts and sort through the many suggestions they have already received. 

Franson asked "to keep East Brook families in your thoughts and prayers as they struggle to deal with such enormous pain and grief."


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