What to Know
One of the students seriously injured the New Jersey school bus crash last month is out of the hospital and recovering at home
Zaina Matahen said she is giving back to the community who helped her in her healing by giving students at the school a free lunch
The crash killed 10-year-old Miranda Faith Vargas and teacher Jennifer Williamson while injuring everybody else on board
One of the New Jersey fifth-graders severely injured in the school bus crash last month on Route 80 in Mount Olive Township is out of the hospital and she is taking the outpouring support and paying it forward.
Zaina Matahen has a cut above her left eye from the mangled wreck that killed one of her closest friends, 10-year-old Miranda Faith Vargas, as well as East Brook Middle School teacher Jennifer Williamson. Despite her own injury, she is already giving back to the community that has helped make her recovery a little bit easier.
“[Friday] we’re going to have a free lunch for all the East Brook students,” Zaina said in an exclusive interview with NBC 4 New York.
For the next two Fridays, she plans to treat all of her classmates to lunch, free of charge. Zaina and her family have already raised more than $3,000 – largely from the Muslim community in Paramus and decided that is how she wanted to spend it.
“We’re doing this in memory of Miranda and Mrs. Williamson,” she said.
Zaina and her fifth-grade classmates were on their way to a field trip to Waterloo Village on May 17 when the driver of the school bus they were riding in got lost. Investigators say that driver, 77-year-old Hudy Muldrow Sr., cut across several lanes of highway traffic to make a sudden U-turn.
The bus struck a dump truck, injuring everybody on board and killing Miranda and Williamson.
Zaina’s father, Nick Matahen, said they are thankful for the way the Paramus community came together in the time of need.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost their loved ones,” Matahen said fighting back tears. “This is the thing that you feel like the sense of belonging and the sense of community. It’s just amazing.”
Zaina has been home from school resting, but still has a long road of recovery ahead.