Kids Hurt and Clinging to Life, Paramus Mourns After Deadly Bus Crash
PARAMUS — A community continues to grieve for the loss of a student and teacher killed when their bus, headed to Waterloo Village on a class trip, was hit by a dump truck last Thursday on Interstate 80.
Flags will fly at half-staff at state buildings and offices on Monday in honor of 10-year-old East Brook Middle School student Miranda Vargas and teacher Jennifer Williamson Kennedy, as ordered by Gov. Phil Murphy.
A vigil took place Sunday at the Our Lady of Visitation Church in Paramus as the children and chaperones on board the bus on Interstate 80 continue to recover from their injuries.
Rosemary Arroyo, the mother of one of the injured fifth graders, told NorthJersey.com that she was "heartened" by the support. Her son Jacob told CBS New York that a friend on the bus had brain surgery and is in a coma with a 30 percent chance of surviving.
With a bruise under her eye, Tiana Holeviczki, one of the students injured in the crash came to the vigil and told CBS New York Vargas was "very sweet."
A viewing was held for Vargas on Sunday at a Clifton church that drew hundreds to pay their respects to a girl described by her family on a GoFundMe page as "a beautiful, gentle soul with a passionate love for her family." Her funeral is scheduled Monday at the church.
Arnie O'Callaghan, the father of another hospitalized boy, shared video on his Facebook page of his son being visited by his school principal and members of the Paramus police as he received a hockey stick autographed by New York Ranger Henrik Lundquist, after his grandfather contacted the team.
"This made his day seem so much more brighter for him the most alert I've seen him," Arnie wrote.
David Fried, the lawyer for Vargas' family, told NJ.com outside the Marrocco Memorial Chapel there are two legal sides to the incident. He said he is handing the civil case and looking at issues such as seat belt use and whether or not medical assistance came in a timely fashion.
The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office is handling the criminal investigation and did not disclose any additional information about the case over the weekend.
Department of Transportation officials who saw video of the Thursday morning crash described it as one of the worst images they have ever seen. The footage, which was recorded by a traffic camera perched on an overpass, shows the bus trying to cross three lanes of traffic to get to a paved median cut-through reserved for emergency vehicles.
The school bus is seen going into the path of the dump truck, which hits the bus with such force that it knocks the section of the bus carrying passengers off its chassis, according to an official who saw the video.
Neither driver has been charged with a crime or traffic violation but the investigation is not over. The Morris County Prosecutor's Office had no comment on the contents of the traffic cam video..
Mendez Trucking owner Juan Munoz said the crash involving his company's dump truck has left him "deeply saddened by this tragedy." He said the company is cooperating with the investigation.
There is no word on the condition of either driver in the incident.